The nights are drawing in, the decorations are up and the allure of an open fire and glass of mulled wine is all too tempting.
But is ‘shutting up shop’ early costing you business? Whether you’re closed over Christmas, or simply mentally switched off for the season, you’re failing to capitalise on opportunities and missing out to your competitors.
We answer your questions about how and why the festive season affects business:
1. Why does business slow down in December?
Businesses around the country come to a standstill as Christmas approaches, as if the chaotic Black Friday sales have caused people to lose their minds, as well as their wallets.
From the moment advent begins, businesses slow from a run to a jog, with many lagging behind in a mince pie induced stupor by mid-December.
It’s understandable – the distractions at this time of year are numerous, with parties and present purchasing taking precedence over client acquisition and business strategy.
2. Is Christmas madness bad for business?
By regarding December as a disposable month, companies are reducing their productivity and profitability by 1/12. Apply that fraction to your working day and consider: would you finish 40 minutes early every day, just to don a paper hat and pull a cracker?
3. Do clients want me to be available?
Contrary to popular belief, prospective clients are still available as the holiday season falls upon us – regardless of the sector – and it’s guaranteed that if you are not open for business, a competitor will be.
Failing to provide a comprehensive service year round can be damaging. New prospects expect instant gratification, while existing clients expect regular communications.
Whatever your industry, failing to provide the service your clients deserve will have a negative impact on your brand, your growth and your profits.
4. How do I market my business during the festive season?
The Christmas period is an opportunity to capitalise on your lack of competition, to ensure your message is being heard while your competitors are silent.
In a marketplace in which fewer service providers are active, an organisation that is open, alert and receptive is in prime position for attracting and nurturing new business opportunities.
Your business should be:
- Open and receptive
- Offering seasonal discounts
- Active online
The festive period is not only potentially lucrative due to the lack of competition in certain sectors – it is also the ideal time in which to market your services. With ‘sale’ signs adorning windows up and down the High Street, there is no reason why your business shouldn’t get in on the action.
Consider your services carefully and determine if there is anything you could offer at a discounted price during this period. Applying the proven marketing technique of scarcity can be beneficial. Offering your service at a discounted price for a limited time both appeals to prospective clients’ desire to receive value for money and encourages them to purchase immediately, rather than delay until after the busy Christmas period.
5. Is it too late to create a Christmas strategy?
Pre-planning is a necessity to ensure your marketing strategy attracts the right clients and delivers growth. If you are not capitalising on opportunities now, at least use December to plan for the upcoming months, and ensure you hit the ground running in the New Year.
With the right marketing strategy in place, you can be miles ahead of your competitors while they are emerging bleary-eyed from the Boxing Day fug. Take advantage of the festive period and position yourself as the best service provider for your target clients.
After all, it’s better to give than to receive.
Are you attracting the right kind of clients? Claim your FREE consultation and find out how we can help you achieve the business growth you deserve.
It’s all too easy to get confused when sussing out the right path to choose for social media best practice. This short and simple list should help make things a little clearer…
1. Know Your Audience
The clue is in the name – social media is inherently social. The key to all social media success can be traced back to knowing who it is you are talking to, and understanding what sort of communication appeals to that demographic.
- Who are your core customers?
- What are their interests, likes and dislikes?
- What is it about your business which appeals to them?
You may find creating buyer personas to be a helpful tool in helping you to gain a better insight into what your customers value and the tone of voice which will best suit their needs.
2. Know Your Purpose
Once you know who it is you are trying to reach, then consider why it is you are on social media. This is an important thing to establish at the outset, as your goals and objectives will influence everything from the channels you choose, to the frequency with which you post, to the content you share.
- What do I want to get out of social media?
- Which channels suit my purpose?
- Do these objectives link up with my target audience?
3. Do Your Research
When you’ve established who your audience are, and defined your purpose (and chosen your social media channels), it’s time to carefully assess what your competitors are up to on social media.
- How often they post?
- What topics do they post about?
- What channels do they use?
A careful competitor analysis allows you to benchmark your efforts against a pre-existing standard
4. Plan in Advance
Plan your content in advance with the creation of a content calendar and/or the use of any number of pre-scheduling tools available at your disposal. Pre-planning prevents a content draught and allows you to ensure all your activity is ‘on-message’!
Be sure to:
- Check out tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or Everypost to make scheduling your posts quick and simple.
- Plot out your content to accommodate any notable events in your field.
5. Stay Relevant
Don’t treat your business pages or accounts like you would your personal ones. The trick is to keep your content relevant, frequent, and of a high standard. Don’t be too quick to share or post things you’re not sure about, and you’ll stand a far better chance of avoiding some crucial social media faux pas!
Before you post, consider:
- How will my audience respond to this?
- Have I read the whole article/piece myself?
- Is this up-to-the-minute and relevant to my industry?
Running through these questions should help eliminate many of the pitfalls possible with social media.
6. Avoid the Hard Sell
Social media isn’t a marketplace, and your fans or followers are more likely to want to connect and communicate with you than buy your product or services. Social media is a tool for inspiring trust and brand familiarity, rather than for straightforward selling.
7. Monitor Activity
If you don’t keep track of what’s happening with your social media channels, you’ll be left with no way of monitoring what progress is being made and what corrective action may be necessary.
Are you striving for Social Media Success?
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10 years ago there was no such thing as Social Media. No one had even heard of Facebook (unless you were in Harvard back then), not to mention all the rest of the Social Media channels. Social Media Marketing simply didn’t exist.
Today, within just a decade, every decent business employs a Social Media Manager, or outsources their Social Media to a Digital Marketing Agency.
We are all on Social Media or at least we are on as much of it as we want to be. It was designed to be user friendly and ubiquitous and it has become just that. So why on earth would you bother to pay a so-called “expert” to manage your social media for you? After all, why have a dog when you can bark yourself?
Actually, there are plenty of reasons to do exactly that!
1. You Don’t Know How To Use Social Media For Business
Sure you can post a few family photographs and even follow along on Twitter when you’re watching Question Time or the Strictly Come Dancing but that’s not what we’re talking about.
Social Media is an essential element of your Public Relations and Marketing Strategy. It is where many people will go to find information about your business and it is a rich source of potential new business. Unless you understand how to harness the full power of Social Media, you are letting opportunities slip through your fingers on a daily basis.
2. Your Time Is Too Valuable
Even if you have the relevant expertise, effective management of social media for any business takes time. And it’s probably time you don’t have.
If you run a small business employing just a few staff you might have a Facebook Page and a Twitter Account. You post a couple of updates each day and respond to interactions with clients and potential clients. You produce a blogpost or newsletter every week or so and you run a monthly facebook competition and a regular Facebook advertising campaign.
Even this very modest level of activity will take most business owners at least 4 and probably nearer to 8 hours per week. That could be over 400 hours each year spent on social media. Can you afford not to hire someone else to do that for you?
3. Your Business Is Not Social Media
You are an expert in your field of business – but that is not social media.
You generate the most value for your customers, and the most revenue for your business, by focussing on what you do best. Every minute that you spend trying to run an effective Social Media Marketing campaign is time away from your core business. Doing Social Media because you can, rather than doing the thing you know you should, is not good business.
4. You Have A Young Person In The Office – They Can Do It
Younger people tended to be the early adopters of social media. The Millennials have grown up with mobile technology, smart phones and a totally connected environment. They are ideally suited to manage the social media account of any business aren’t they?
Now that you say it out loud, it sounds like a bit of a generalisation, doesn’t it? Maybe even chauvinism? No-one is qualified to do a job just because they are a certain age. There are plenty of silver surfers out there who are rocking it as digital marketing mavens, and plenty of youngsters who have been the architects of some epic social media disasters.
What’s more important is whether they understand the fundamentals of PR & Marketing, as well as the underlying technologies. Do they understand your business and can they communicate your message clearly to your customers? When dealing with a public relations crisis, will they be able to respond with a calm head?
Unless the answer to all those questions is a confident and resounding yes – you might want to re-consider who should be responsible for your social media.
5. An Outsider Won’t Understand Your Business
Actually that may be true. When you’re working with any external consultant, you need to invest some time to make sure they understand you, your culture, the services you provide and your particular goals.
But most businesses are not rocket science, and a qualified and experience digital marketer should understand what is required after taking a reasonably careful brief. More importantly, they will know when not to make assumptions, and when they need to come back and ask for your input.
6. You Are Up To Date With All The Latest Technology
Really? With new social media channels launching all the time it is highly unlikely that you have the time or the energy to keep on top of them. Social Media Marketers spend hours every day just keeping up with the latest developments so they can stay at the top of their game.
7. No-One Can Sell Your Business Like You Can
Actually that’s probably not true. Unless you are a world class salesman or an incredibly talented copywriter it’s highly likely that someone else can promote and market your business much better than you!
The job of a professional designer, or a copywriter or a digital marketer is to take the raw ingredients you give them – your brand – and turn those raw ingredients into the best possible version of you. The best copywriters don’t write about your business the way you would – they write about your business the way you wish you could!
For many Business Owners and Managers the real issue comes down to giving up control. That is where you need to make sure you are asking the right questions and working with experienced, qualified people whom you can trust to do a great job for you.
Not every business is big enough to justify it, but if you invest time and resource in the right Agency not only will you save yourself a lot of time, you will soon find your social media channels become a perpetual source of new business.
theAgency is the Isle of Wight’s leading full-service Marketing Agency. We provide marketing, design and communications services to clients from the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, throughout Hampshire, across the south coast of the UK and beyond. Follow us on Twitter at @TheAgencyIOW
When was the last time you checked your social media through your mobile? Pretty recently, if the latest statistics are to be believed.
While laptops and desktops continue to be important devices to many, social media access via a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device has now overtaken these more ‘traditional’ methods. This news will likely come as no surprise to many; 73% of smartphone users access social networks daily, and Social Media Examiner estimates that Pinterest usage is now 92% mobile, Twitter is 86% mobile, Facebook is 68% mobile and Tumblr users are 46% mobile.
A Changing Social Environment
These are numbers too big to ignore, and certainly numbers which should be at the front of your mind when planning a coherent social media marketing strategy which appeals to the needs of mobile users.
Just as the devices being used to access social media are shifting, so too is the behaviour of these users. Ensuring your content is suitable for a mobile audience involves a high degree of adaptation, whether it be for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or any of the growing number of popular social media platforms.
So how can you make sure your social media marketing efforts are optimised for mobile users?
1. Have a Plan
Users will come to expect a certain tone, and a certain type of content. If you don’t deliver it, they could easily become disillusioned and this can start to impact upon your all-important ‘likes’ and followers, particularly in the case of time-strapped mobile users. An ‘unlike’ is always just a click away…
- Plan ahead and devise a strategy for the kind of content you’ll be posting. Ensure it’s in keeping with your business goals and overall marketing strategy.
- If you’re posting content linking to another location, consider how mobile-friendly the page you are sending visitors to will appear. It may be worth walking yourself through the process on a mobile device prior to posting, to make sure your content is as optimised for mobile users as possible.
- Carefully consider mobile users needs and activities at every stage. Be proactive, as this saves you the headache of trying to correct a mistake further down the line!
2. Keep It Current
Your followers and fans rely on you to help keep them in the know; social media is a great place to help demonstrate that you are at the cutting edge of whatever service it is you specialise in. Your posts should be current, they should be frequent, and they should be consistent.
- Schedule your posts with a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite; this allows you to decide particular times you will be posting content across your various social media content, and keep on top of the results of each post.
3. Consider the Visuals
For many, their go-to idea of what their social media profiles look like is, quite naturally, the desktop version. It’s important to take the time to carefully check what your profiles appear like to a mobile user, particularly if the target audience of your company and content is heavily mobile-oriented. Owners of Facebook Pages will recognize the mobile site as having a vastly different layout to the desktop version, but for all mobile platforms, visuals remain crucial.
- Not only will your brand’s social media presence appear much smaller on a mobile or tablet – meaning elements you thought would have great impact may in fact have far less – but the layout may also become distorted.
- Make sure your header image has a purpose, as it’s the first thing mobile users will see, and takes up a great deal of space. This presents ample opportunity to make a big impact!
- It’s important to ensure your desktop header image on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn still looks good on a mobile device. Be careful with placing text within the image, as this is likely to become obscured in the conversion to mobile. This is particularly true for Twitter.
4. Make it Shareable
Mobile users love to share content. Enabling ease of social sharing should remain at the very forefront of your mobile-centric social media marketing plans.
- Photo and video sharing are among the top activities of mobile social media users, suggesting that social media marketers should consider utilizing more imagery in order to get their message across.
- If people are checking social media on their phone or mobile device, the chances are they’re out and about, and probably have neither the time nor the inclination for reading paragraph upon paragraph of text. Keep your text short and snappy, and save the longer discussion for your blog.
There are plenty of ways to make sure your online marketing efforts are in line with the needs of an increasingly mobile audience. Taking note of the tips on this list should help you on your way!
Do you want to know more about Social Media and its importance?
Follow our blog for more information or
Download our free SME Inside Guide “How to Manage Your Social Media”
Everyone is preaching about social media, and trying to convince you of its importance for your business. Are you on Facebook? Do you have a Twitter account? Have you seen what they posted on Trip Advisor about you? When millions of people are talking about social media, perhaps it’s worth admitting that millions might be on to something.
Not everyone has the skills (or the time) to manage their own social media. And not everyone can afford to employ an in-house social media manager or appoint a specialist digital marketing agency. So what’s the solution?
Why do people choose social media coaching?
It’s natural to think you can approach social media for your business in the same way as you approach your own personal social media channels. You may think to yourself, ‘I have a personal account, I’m sure it’s very similar.’ This is where it starts to get confusing. Setting up a Company page, going through all the different options, the tabs, the settings….to many, it’s an all-too familiar and all too confusing story.
Social media coaching is often a consideration for people who fulfil the following criteria:
- You (or one of your employees) have the time to manage at least one social media channel
- You have a basic idea of what your business could or should be doing on social media.
- You are computer literate and comfortable using social media in a personal capacity.
Is social media coaching for me?
Social Media Coaching is for people who have decided they need and want to have an online presence, and have the time, willingness and imagination to learn the ropes! You may have some basic knowledge and understanding of social media channels. You will want your knowledge to be specifically tailored to your company, its needs and its character.
What will social media coaching give me?
With social media coaching, you’ll be able to answer the crucial questions of what, where and when:
- What should your business be posting, when and how often?
- What social media platforms should you be on?
- Where do you get content from, and how do you manage it?
- Who should you follow and how do you increase your own following?
- What software can you use to maximise your efforts?
- How can you track and measure your success?
…and many more.
Put simply, social media coaching will equip you with the vital skills and know-how to take your business and its online presence to the next level. By the end of the session you will have a correctly set-up business account, know the types of content and different stages of content creation, and make steps towards generating the results you and your business are looking for. The best part of it is, you won’t need to outsource and hand the reins to an outsider!
Coaching is a great option for people who aren’t looking for a ‘one size fits all’ approach to social media, and your social media coach will work with you to deliver a targeted plan which helps you meet your unique business goals.
Following social media coaching, your efforts will be more in alignment with your overall strategy, significantly strengthening your marketing and branding efforts.
This will certainly offer you a number of real benefits and increased business opportunities!
Remember, the choice is yours and it might change with time and your endeavours spent on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
How does your Social Media Marketing measure up?
Claim your FREE SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT today
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In 2010, Old Spice spent $11.4m on their social media campaign. We all need to be on social media, but we don’t all have a budget like Old Spice.
SME’s know they must get involved with social media, but don’t feel they have the time or money available that they need to invest in the channels and campaigns to make them worthwhile.
Social media can be massively time-consuming to manage yourself. With so many other areas of your business to attend to, it’s natural to consider whether to outsource your social media to a specialist agency.
While there are plenty of benefits to this, such as the guidance and experience of someone more knowledgeable and the opportunity to take a bit of the pressure off, there are also a great many mistakes to be made when outsourcing your social media.
Some people assume a business page on social media functions in the same way as a personal page. Others panic, fearing they’ll fall at the first hurdle and get it wrong. Social Media is an increasingly vital tool for every business, yet many SMEs and small businesses remain unaware of just how best to navigate the maze of social media channels and the seemingly endless tools at their disposal.