Every other month, Perfect layout goes out into the community to talk to local businesses. The aim is share with our readers the personal experiences of these companies. What has worked for them and what they could do a little better…
Perfect Layout believe that sharing knowledge and experiences is a great way to help other businesses wherever they may be situated. Attracting customers to the local area is paramount if independent companies are to thrive.
As a result, and being fairly new on the block ourselves, we are keen to promote the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Read on for our very first inspirational interview…
Business name - It’s Mine Cakes
Owner – Amanda Easy
Location – 3 Grange Road,
Harold Hill, RM3 7DU
What was life like before making cakes?
Life before cakes saw me working full time as a trainer in my other business called ‘Easy Management of Aggression’ otherwise known as EMA. This business delivers mandatory training and secure patient transport within the mental health sector.
Making cakes is quite far removed from your role within your other business. What inspired you to start making cakes?
My sister asked me to make her a birthday cake, for herself, as she couldn’t find what she wanted in the shops. When I made the cake, it came out so nice that my other sister wanted one and then other family members began asking me to make cakes for them too.
After making three or four cakes, I saw other cakes that were on sale in a new business and comparing my cakes with theirs, I decided that mine were a lot better! I thought to myself, if they can do it, I can do it. I made an Instagram page of the cakes that I’d already made and within a week I had someone email me with an order.
I then started making cakes from my kitchen and had so many cake orders that my husband had to go out and buy me a wallpaper paste table to put all the cakes on. I had them all lined up on this table and my kids began complaining that they were taking up too much space.
Making cakes from my kitchen went on for about 4 months. I couldn’t cope with the amount. For the cakes that I was unable to make, I had to get another cake firm to make them for me. After that, for consistency, I had to work from a bigger base. It was at that point that I realised that in order to grow the business I had to get premises for all the cakes and taking on staff. Plus, my house was getting destroyed!
I started looking at information on how you get premises, and what would be needed to get a shop.
It was then that I realised that the outlay would be too much and I had to get a business loan. I used the Government funded scheme for start-up businesses. I had to write a business plan with forecasts etc and talk to various people about the business. I spoke with them twice and got approval for plans within days. Two days later the money was in my account. Part of my plan submission included the details of the shop, which I think made my proposal look more attractive and got quicker approval.
The rest is history!
How did you come up with your business name?
I first of all thought about using my own name with cakes in the title. But I thought that if my name was in the title I would become the brand and I didn’t want that. Eventually, I want to really grow the company. The idea for my name came when watching how everyone reacts to having a cake. They would react by saying, “it’s mine”. I thought it was catchy so went with it. It makes me laugh as people still have that reaction when I deliver their cake.
Have you had any formal training?
No! I am completely self-taught.
How long have you had your shop in Grange Road?
Three years this November.
How many employees do you have?
I currently have one part-time member of staff. I have tried working with a young apprentice from a baking school but the person didn’t fit and it worked out that the role wasn’t right for her. I do believe in hiring staff in this way and will revisit doing this in the future.
What advice would you give to other cake makers and decorators that would like to make money from their creations?
Don’t under price because you think people won’t pay it. Take a deposit to cover your costs before you start working on your cake and have a good set of terms and conditions.
How’s business going since you first started out?
It’s going well! I’ve increased my product range to include, glow in the dark cakes, wedding cakes, cupcakes, push cakes, cake pops, biscuits, chocolate covered strawberries and oreos. I also make my own creations using the current trends like, ‘whole in the cake or look through the cake’ or ‘abandoned theatre’ style. My twist on this is to create a circus tent inside a cake.
Next year I’d also like to introduce taster open days for wedding cakes. This would be done on a group basis of 4 to 5 couples. On offer to taste would be sponges (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and lemon flavours) butter creams (chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese and lemon flavours) and fruit fillings (raspberry, lemon and cherry flavours).
Where do you see It's Mine Cakes in 5 years time?
Becoming a preferred provider for wedding venues and with a team of 5 full time members of staff.
Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
I use Instagram and Facebook to promote my products, word of mouth and loyalty scheme. My loyalty scheme is that for every spend over £50 they get a stamp. Acquiring 3 stamps, will get the customer 6 free cup-cakes, for 6 stamps, they get 12 cup cakes and for 9 stamps they will get a 6-inch cake.
What types of businesses do you think would benefit from using Instagram?
Any business that can promote their business with a photograph.
I note that you are very active on social media. Have you thought about growing your business with the benefit of having a website?
Yes! I think that having a website will help me reach more people and give me a more professional image. It will also allow me to write more information about my products and offer people the chance to make payments online.
If you could start It's Mine Cakes all over again, what would you do differently?
I would try to work on the business rather than in the business. I would have concentrated more on establishing the processes and marketing rather than making the cakes.
Do you watch the Great British Bake-off on Channel Four?
No. It’s a show about baking and I run a business focussed on decorating cakes.
So for all things cake – check out Amanda’s varied delicious selections via:
Facebook - itsminecake
Instagram - itsminecakes
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!
At Perfect Layout Digital Marketing we are always surprised by how many small businesses still don't have a website in this deep-rooted digital world.
Just because you are a small business, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think and act BIG. The only things stopping you from growing are your own limitations – believing that you don’t need a website until you are bigger or more established is not the right way to look at it.
How many times do you pick up your phone to look something up on the internet? How do you find what you are looking for? After a few searches you find a website that matches your needs. So ask yourself now, by not investing in a website, how many customers could you be missing out on because people who are looking for your services are going to your competitors? Are you mentally kicking yourself? Did you know that a year ago it was found that mobile devices accounted for 51 percent of organic search engine visits?
This is how most businesses communicate news with their customers, most popular to least popular. Which do you do?
Advertising on TV and radio requires a lot more money, so it’s understandable that not all businesses can support that additional spend. However, there is no excuse that the rest aren’t on your marketing radar.
If you are making excuses in your head against doing any of these, you are limiting the potential of expanding your business.
I get all of my business from word-of-mouth.
This is great and well done for building up trust and confidence from your existing client-base. But if you have quiet periods throughout the year, wouldn’t you rather have those down times busy? And if you are flat-out busy and have a small team, imagine what could be possible by getting a new website and having more customers. You could expand your team and concentrate on the tasks you like doing and employ someone to do those other tasks. How nice would that feel?
If nothing else, create a simple website that can act as a business card or CV. This can be an easy way to get started.
It’s OK, I’m on social media
Social media is a wonderful platform to use, but like anything these days, it doesn’t maximise your potential alone. Social media enables people to connect with what they are familiar with and like. But what if your business is a one-off purchase, or something that they are not passionate about? Unless you are spending a lot on social media advertising, you are unlikely to reach those people who are looking for your service, but don’t know that you exist.
I’m a technophobe
Perhaps you don’t know where to start and all this technology is a little bit scary. That’s perfectly OK. No one is capable of doing it all, and frankly there aren’t enough hours of the day to fit everything in. So concentrate on what you do best and find the people who understand this type of thing inside and out (like Perfect Layout Digital Marketing!).
Building a website is something I cannot afford?
Try not to think about what you can or cannot afford. With this mindset you are thinking of it as an expense instead of looking at it in terms of what value it could bring to your business. A website is an investment, so what is that investment worth? What would it take to recoup those costs?
If for example if you were a cake maker and each cake is worth between £60-£100 , if your website costs were £150 per month, then getting two more orders per month would cover this investment. How easy do you think you could generate two more cake leads? What if the website brought you in 10 new orders per month? That would be an extra £600-£1,000 per month of revenue, thanks to the website.
Does that now look attractive?
Also consider that if your cakes are beautiful and tasty, how much repeat business might you get from these clients who found you because of your online presence? Map out these trends now from your current clients and how much repeat business you get from them and then do a quick scaling up of the potential. I’m sure that £150 per month in investing in a website doesn’t seem such an outlay now and maybe you have butterflies in your tummy as you see the potential of what your business might be able to achieve.
If you are going to dip your toe in the water with a website, now is the time to also think about your social media presence, if you don’t have one already. Social media is equally important and can easily help support the website’s rankings. As of 2017, daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 135 minutes per day, up from 126 daily minutes in the previous year. (Statista)
You don’t have to be on all of them, find out what each one does and how you might engage with customers. You will soon realise that some platforms are perhaps not a great fit for your business. Here is a useful article outlining Ten ways small businesses can use social media to generate leads.
So to answer the question above, regardless of the size of your business, or even if you are just starting a business from scratch. In today’s world, it is vital for your business to have an online presence, and that includes a website, social media and more. Want some advice on how to take the next step, give Perfect Layout a call on 01708 578 015.
The term ‘Content is King’ has been bandied about for many years. It’s something that you may have heard mentioned on one of the blogs at Perfect Layout or whilst perusing the internet for news and top tips on how to make your website attract customers.
So, what does the term Content is King mean and from where did it originate?
The term ‘Content is King’ came from an essay that Bill Gates wrote in January 1996 entitled, ’Content is King’. It was published on the Microsoft website and stated…
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
Imagine, Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft computers made this statement over 20 years ago! Did he have a crystal ball? We’ll never know, but his intuition was certainly firing on all cylinders as his prediction has become a reality. Today, content is a huge factor in what drives the internet. It’s what search engines love to find and use to rank a website as an authoritative and trustworthy site - hence content being at the top of the pecking order when it comes having a great website.
Is content on a site that important?
There’s really no getting away from the fact that having interesting, informative, content on your website is great news for your business. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t buy a book entitled: ‘How to create a great blog’ if the ideas contained within it was not about blogs and full of grammatical mistakes.
It’s the same with a website. Nowadays consumers aren’t solely surfing to buy a product or service. They want to be clued-up, educated or tickled with something that will draw them in to press the buy, subscribe, like or recommend button, and ultimately come back for more. The right content on a website can help a business achieve these things – but it can’t do it on its own. That’s where the rest of the royal family come into play…next up, ‘The Queen’.
So, what is the role of the Queen?
My thoughts are that having great content is not a stand-alone facet of getting customers to a site. There has to be a strategy behind the content to ensure that it’s relevant and directed at the right customers at the right time.
The content that’s being offered should have the right ‘context’ which means offering information that is relevant and helpful to the customer in their current situation. The more relevant a post is to that person’s need, at that point, the more that person is likely to buy that product or service. To fully merge the right context into your content means thinking about what context would be helpful for your customers and then identifying the kind of factual data you need to identify that context.
The work of The Queen doesn’t stop there. Her role also holds the title of ‘creative development’. Making your content stand out and really shine amongst the competition isn’t easy. Depending on your niche you will have a particular demographic and age-range that you need to appeal to. Do your research and tailor your content to appeal to them.
I believe that the final role of The Queen (such a busy lady!) is that of ‘distribution’. What platforms are the best to get your content seen by those that need to see it? Nowadays, there’s a plethora of social media platforms that can be used to get your content seen by the right people. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ are just some of the ways in which you can distribute your content directly to the people that want to see it.
So, during the planning stages you will need to think about:
And last but not least…The Prince and Princess
Whilst there’s little written about the off-spring of this royal family, I’ve taken the liberty of identifying who they are and the role they play in keeping the King on his throne.
The key to ensuring that your website, and the content contained within it, are working optimally, are Web Designers – surprise! They may also go under different Marketing titles, but I’m writing this blog so have the freedom to be biased!
If you are unable to write content like a King with the right context and undertake all the other tasks included within the role of the Queen, the Princesses within this company can assist you to:
Be inspired to… think and write creatively
My husband has a beard. Not a moustache, goatie or bit of stubble – he has a full-grown cave man beard. It suits him. It draws him attention and makes him stand out from the crowd for his unique style.
These days, having a business online can be difficult to master. Depending on your niche, getting a foothold amongst your competitors can be a daunting task. You have to think outside the box, be unique and have the equivalent of a really big beard (!) to draw customers in.
We are accustomed to writing content and thinking outside the box when it comes to promoting local online businesses. We write content that’s relevant, interesting and full of keywords that will get you seen by the right audience. The key is to making the text sound natural, interweaving an outline of your services and products into the content all the while helping you to stand out from the crowd.
If you can’t remember the last time you reviewed the website for your business, now may be the time to undertake this task. Not having a new website could be the reason for your business lacking traffic and your competitors getting further and further ahead of you in the game.
It is now more important than ever to have a website that your customers will look forward to visiting. Consumers have a high expectation that a website will be visually attractive, easy to navigate, simple and informative. It should also be a website that works on whatever device the consumer feels like using at the time, wherever they might be.
But my website looks okay…
Recently, we were contacted by a client that had a very nice website. It had some great photos and was clean and easy to read. It was a business that worked mostly on referrals and chance passers-by.
There was no strategy behind their actions and they simply undertook tasks to keep their business afloat as opposed to thinking smart about what would work to promote what they offered and ultimately get more customers walking through the door.
They were working in the business, not on the business.
Their website lacked:
We also advised our client that if he wanted to attract customers to his business he had to get his website working in a way that would get his company appearing when searched for. Specifically creating pages on his website that targeted his local areas would help raise his profile.
Even though he had competitors in the local area, he had a unique selling point that he had never seen before. Perfect Layout was able to open his eyes as to how he could exploit these assets and show potential customers the benefits of going with him as opposed to his opposition.
We also discussed the websites of his larger sized competitors. What they had to offer as well as the pros and cons of their websites. Once the comparisons had been made he was very quickly able to see that his site was outdated.
Even though making the changes we recommended looked scary and trying to take on his competitors looked intimidating, we reassured him that with the right digital marketing approach (some of which are mentioned above) we would be able to increase his visibility and potentially turn those online visits into sales.
Be inspired to revamp your website:
Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Perfect Layout Digital Marketing
...what do they all have in common?
Two legends of the track hung up their running shoes this year at the World Championship Athletics meet in London. Usain Bolt, Jamaican born and currently the fastest human in the world is considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He is an 8-time Olympic world medallist and has many other amazing track achievements.
Or how about admiring Mo Farah? He is the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history. He won gold in both the 5000m and 10,000m in 2012 and defended his status in 2016. He is the first person in history to defend both distance titles in the Olympics and World Championships Athletics. Very impressive!
So, what do they both have in common with our company Perfect Layout? Change. They knew that their bodies had had enough. It was time to be brave and take a new direction in their life, out of their routine, out of their comfort zone and out of the limelight.
Sound familiar? Are you a company that was once:
Have your sales now dropped?
Do you feel out of your depth when thinking about how to increase your revenue?
Are you at a loss as to how you can get new customers in through the door?
Then you need go no further. Bite the bullet and give us a call now to find out how we can help be your catalyst of change. Creating a new website or improving what you have is just one important facet to building your business up to where you want it to be.
Take action and be like Usain and Mo. There’s a time for thinking and a time for doing - let your time of doing be now!
How could your business benefit from having a new or revamped website with SEO? Why not make a list of the pros and cons to taking immediate action.
Location, location, location - does your business need to be found outside of your registered address?
If you’re a business with offices in Emerson Park, how do you get seen online in other Essex areas like Romford, Hornchurch, Upminster and Chadwell Heath, or further afield like Brentwood, Chelmsford and Loughton? Read on as branching out may not be as difficult as you first thought.
Will I get more business if my website name reflects the area I’m working in?
Yes and no. For businesses that are looking to service one area only, putting the location in the domain name may help get you more customers. For example, Website Designers Essex is okay if Essex is the only location to be serviced. However, if your long-term plan is to seek clients in London, Kent and other home counties, making your business name broader (i.e. Perfect Layout Digital Marketing) would be more beneficial.
If I have more than one website to represent other areas I work in will this bring in more customers?
There are many companies that use this method and whilst some yield results, it isn’t the most productive use of resources. The more sites a business has the more marketing input into each site it will have to make. Duplicating content is hugely frowned upon so each site would again need individual attention to ensure that it’s unique. If your business is cited on business directories it’s important that the name, address and phone number (NAP) being listed appears on only one site. If not, search engines like Google and Yahoo, will become confused and their confusion may negatively affect your rankings.
How can one website be designed to incorporate all the areas where I want my business to be seen?
A website designer that can’t create for you a site that reflects multiple business areas is not doing their job! Along with the usual page headings there should be an areas we cover page that lists the services offered in an original format, including naturally interweaved keywords to get each page found.
What this goes back to is having a plan. Having a strategy helps your business focus and maximise what you already have. Well designed, optimised city pages may be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for to beat your competition.
So how far does your business go geographically? Are you missing out on being visible in these areas?
Looking for a local Essex web design company? Perfect Layout Digital Marketing can offer you web design services that will make a difference to your online business.
What's your website status?
If you’re a business that’s just starting out, jotting down ideas, creating a strategy, it’s never too early to start thinking about the type of website design you might have. Perfect Layout is a company that gets excited about helping new and established clients obtain a website that’s designed just right for their business. Every project is met with enthusiasm and we are happy to offer our advice about how your ideas can be translated and understood by your customers when in website format.
Identifying your target audience is key to ensuring that your future plan takes into account the ebbs and flow of the ever-moving online traffic. Your website design should include photographs that are personal and reflective of the service you provide. Content should be interesting and applicable to your product and written in a language that draws people in.
During your free consultation, Perfect Layout can help you focus and offer ideas that you may not have thought about. As an online business, it’s paramount that you get this right or otherwise you’ll end up stuck, going nowhere fast.
Be inspired – have a well thought out strategy
Travelling home on the motorway recently (from a wonderful week in Cornwall!) the strangeness of people’s behaviour whilst driving really struck a chord. All lanes had traffic, but it didn’t stop many drivers constantly swapping lanes. The effect? The traffic slowed down even more rather than speeding up. And there I was thinking that us British were always patient whilst queueing!
If you’re a business that is constantly changing its strategy, trying to get ahead of your competitors but getting nowhere fast, it may be time for you to take a new approach. If you’re a new start up business or your website hasn’t been looked at for a while or you’re a business working without a website – now is the time to make that change and get in the right lane to making your business work.
We’re not like some motorway drivers that can’t help but change lanes when they come up to a bit of traffic. We think long term and avoid reactionary behaviour. A constant 55 mph is way better than bombing it at 70mph for a quarter of the journey then travelling at 30mph for the remainder.
Are you a local business in Essex? Are you looking to get your business generating new leads from your website?
Start-up businesses; let us build your website
If you are a start-up business looking for a web design company, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing is based in Romford, Essex and can provide consultancy and support to get your new website designed and generating leads to your business.
Does your current website leave you feeling deflated?
Many local businesses have a website built, but then find that the leads that they were expecting simply don’t materialise. This is because a website on its own cannot do it all; there are other techniques that need to be implemented to make everything work harmoniously. Imagine making a cake with only flour, it wouldn’t work; you need butter and eggs as well to make a basic sponge. In digital marketing there are other ingredients that we add into the mix, to get the sweetest results.
Many businesses requiring web services prefer a local-based company for ease of communication and being able to meet up face-to-face, if needed. So if your business is situated in Hornchurch, Ilford, Upminster, Elm Park, Rainham, Rush Green, Chadwell Heath, Dagenham and Barking, or other areas of Essex and London, the Perfect Layout team can easily pop over to have a chat as part of our free consultation.
We provide a friendly and professional service, combined with affordable monthly packages, to help reduce your expenses.
Choose Perfect Layout Digital Marketing! Call us today on 01708 578 015.