Last week, 13 July, Christine Huntingford from Perfect Layout Digital Marketing was invited to give a presentation at the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) breakfast meeting, where members and visitors attended. She thought long and hard about what to talk to them about and decided to make it an interactive session with the participants and let them know in 10 minutes, after a few simple checks, whether their website was working well for their business and whether their website and digital marketing need some real Tender Loving Care (TLC).
Firstly, to get a sense of their initial thoughts she asked the following questions:
This gave everyone a moment to reflect not only if were they genuinely happy with their current service, but also to validate if this was a way in which they were bringing in customers.
Now we know its all very easy to think that everything is fine with our website, but how do we really know? Well, these next simple tasks can reveal whether your website is working for you. You can do this for your site at any time.
Open your search browser for the internet and look for your business, by type and location. Please don’t type in your company name but instead type in say ‘Accountants in Romford’.
Is your company is listed on page one?
If it is that’s great news. Potential customers have a chance of finding you and calling up your business.
For those of you that didn’t appear on page one, you may need to think about how to improve the content of your website to help you to be found.
Whilst before you were asked not to type in your company name into the browser, this time, do exactly that. For example, for our Company it would be, ‘Perfect Layout Digital Marketing’.
Can you see the Google My Business (GMB) listing for your business? Can you also see photos, posts and full details about your company? Do you have reviews?
If it’s a ‘yes’ for all of that, that is excellent! You are on track with taking full advantage of GMB’s latest updates and features.
If you didn’t, Perfect Layout can help you either set up a Google My Business, or help you enhance what you already have there.
Keeping the page that you had open for task 2, now scroll down the results page, do you have your business listed in external directories? Such as Yell, Thomson, Netmums, or any online directory for your sector?
If you have more than 3 external directory listings, you are doing well, these connections on external sites help give your website relevancy and demonstrate that you are an active business.
If you are not listed on any external directories, it is recommended that this strategy is employed in order to help your business get found.
Does your website have a blog section? If it does, was the last post published within the last month?
If this is you - congratulations! You are doing a good job of sharing news about your company’s activities and products to your community.
If you don’t, get in touch with Perfect Layout about the benefits of a blog, which can help your website rank better.
Being on external directories can improve your online visibility with prospective clients.
Having a blog section is an opportunity to update your community on what you are doing and makes your business more authoritative.
In the second half of the presentation we introduced an alternative strategy for phone-based businesses who don’t have the money to invest in a new website or redesign of their current website - but need to be earning more money and secure new customers.
To clarify, a phone-based business is when people would call you as their primary way of contacting you, rather than via email or walking into your business premises.
Let’s imagine the following:
Our client, a dentist, gets some enquiries from his website, but he would like more. His family is growing and they need a bigger house, but what he is currently earning isn’t quite enough to be able to move, just yet. He doesn’t have the money to rebuild his website and invest in keyword-rich content.
However, as a phone-based business, he has the option of securing potential customers through a customer generating website that’s run by a digital marketing agency. This website will generate new contacts specifically for his business by creating a new website free of charge. It will be found organically on the top pages of search engines and could bring him that extra revenue that he is looking for. From these new clients there’s a high likelihood of them becoming repeat customers, who will visit for check-ups, as well as the need for ad hoc additional treatments. Fabulous recurring revenue for years to come.
It’s a no brainer – so where's the catch? It’s simply a matter of paying a small fee to the digital marketing agency for each enquiry that comes via that website.
If this has struck a chord with you and you would like your business to build up its client base and recurring customers, give us a call today to talk about whether your niche would suit such a website.
For many businesses, social media is an indispensable tool for finding and engaging with customers, improving sales, advertising and promoting products and services as well as gauging trends and offering customer service.
Social media has a significant role in helping businesses as it:
While 76% of direct sellers use social media for promotional purposes, 55% use it for recruiting new distributors and 42% use it for reactive purposes. Consumers are the most popular target for social media, followed by distributors and communities. Social media has evolved into a driver of strategy, and will become even more important in the future as customer relationships are improved and developed by listening and reacting to concerns. The transparency created by social media is enhancing trust and ethical organisational cultures. In addition, consumer brand communities are emerging that are increasing brand value.
1 – Facebook
This is easily the largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used.
Facebook was perhaps the first that surpassed the landmark of 1 billion user accounts.
An average Facebook user has 180 friends.
Apart from the ability to network with friends and relatives, different Facebook apps can be accessed to sell online and market or promote a businesses brand and products by using paid Facebook ads.
Facebook has incredible insights about their users and can target very specific demographics with very specific ads. Facebook ads are shown more regularly to advertisers who are willing to pay more than other advertisers targeting the same people.
This creates a bidding war and makes advertising campaigns that focus on a small niche more profitable.
Number of active users per month: approximately 1.7 billion
2 – Instagram
Instagram was launched as a unique social networking platform that was completely based on sharing photos and videos.
This photo sharing social networking app thus enables you to capture the best moments of your life, with your phone’s camera or any other camera, and convert them into works of art.
This is possible because Instagram allows you to apply multiple filters to your photos and you can easily post them to other popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. It is now part of the Facebook empire, with 1 billion registered users.
More than 80% of Instagram’s community lives outside of the U.S.
More than 300 million users check Instagram Stories daily.
Number of active users per month: 500 million approximately
3 – Twitter
This social networking site enables you to post short text messages (called tweets), containing a limited number of characters (up to 240), to convey your message to the world. With the growing craze for online shopping, Twitter makes it possible to promote your business and shop directly through tweets.
More political leaders use Twitter than any other social platform. 276 heads of state, government and ministries in 178 countries use Twitter.
68 million monthly active users are located in the U.S.
262 million monthly active users live outside of the U.S. (roughly 80%of all users).
42% of Twitter users use the site daily.
8% of US Companies use Twitter for marketing purposes.
74% of Twitter users follow small businesses to get product updates.
Number of active users per month: 330 million approximately
4 – Google+
Owned by the tech giant Alphabet (Google), this interest-based social networking platform enables you to stay in touch with people by sharing messages, photos, videos, useful links to sites and so on. It is estimated that it has a total of 2 billion registered users.
It also extends support for video conferencing through Hangouts and allows businesses to promote their brands and products through Google+ business pages.
Top 5 countries using G+ are USA, India, Brazil, UK & Canada.
Number of active users: 395 million approximately
LinkedIn is easily one of the most popular professional social networking sites or apps and is available in over 20 languages.
It is used across the globe by all types of professionals and serves as an ideal platform to connect with different businesses, locate and hire ideal candidates and more. It also boasts over 500 million members.
The more precise demographical data about people you are connected with is usually behind a pay-wall (a tool to monetize digital content securely and efficiently) such as on LinkedIn. 171 million users are based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The U.S. has the largest national user base (146 million members), followed by India, China and Brazil.
49% of college graduates use LinkedIn.
45% of adults making more than US$75,000 per year are on LinkedIn.
More than 46 million students and recent college graduates use LinkedIn. They are the networking site’s fastest-growing demographic.
Number of active users per month: 250 million approximately
Love them or loathe them, social media platforms are a must for all business owners to use. Denying your business a presence on the right social media platforms could lose you leads, revenue and repeat custom.
If you are overwhelmed with where you should start, give Perfect Layout Digital Marketing a call to see how we can help build the right social media strategy for you.
Perfect Layout believes that sharing knowledge and experiences is a great way of helping each other learn how to run a business better. Interviewing local businesses is a bi-monthly ritual that we really enjoy as it allows us to become more known in the community and learn about how other businesses work.
We hope that sharing the personal experiences of these companies will give them exposure to you - readers, that may need their services as well as providing insights into what has worked for them and what they could do a little better…
This month, we interview Cyrus Mehta. An experienced Photographer that has recently taken the leap and become a full-time business owner.
How did your career in photography begin?
I have always loved photography from a very young age and dipped in and out of it over the years but my passion really reignited whilst working as a Project Manager for an events company that specialised in automotive press launches. We were away on a launch in Siena for about 4-5 weeks and during one of my weekends off I decided to explore the landscape and took the company digital compact camera with me. The Tuscan landscape is simply beautiful and I was totally hooked on capturing images of anything and everything from that moment.
During this trip one of my colleagues on the launch was due to get married when we got back to the UK. I was invited to the wedding and took the photographs throughout the day. I retouched them using Photoshop and the couple really liked them. I loved doing it! Then another friend asked me to do his wedding and I thought, if I’m going to do this properly and one day make this my full time career I have to invest in the right equipment. So I invested in a Canon DSLR system. It was my first paying wedding. I continued doing this alongside my main job.
How long have you been a photographer for?
I’ve been working as a part time photographer for over 10 years now. But I actually got my first camera when I was 10 years old and I was hooked from then. I also studied photography as part of my graphics course at college. I set up my own darkroom at home where I processed all my images. Even with a full time job and travelling for work, I managed to study O’level photography at night class.
What draws you to taking photographs for a living?
The passion for creating. I love the whole process of capturing the still image and then making a good image even better through post production … if the image needs it.
What did you do beforehand?
I was a Project Manager for an events company that specialised in automotive press launches.
How has the transition been from taking photographs part-time to doing it full time?
Exciting! I can now concentrate on getting things done as there’s no longer the distraction of my main job. Before, I had to book days off as holiday well in advance to make sure that I would be available for my clients. I would never want to let clients down. I have a lot of trust put on me to capture events like weddings for instance where you only get one chance to capture the whole day.
What type of pictures do you enjoy taking the most?
Mainly weddings as this encompasses a wide range of photography skills like portraiture, social interaction, fashion, landscape and architectural photography. Although my main photography avenues are weddings, portraits etc, I photograph a wide variety of subjects such as products. I recently shot a range of high end scarves for a client who is selling through her new website. I’m just about to do a shoot in Southend for an adventure playground who are revamping their website. So my photography is quite diverse.
What makes you different from other photographers?
I go out of my way to make sure my clients are happy with what they have hired me for. Retouching for me is also a big part of photography. It can really enhance an image and as a tool makes a difference to the quality of a photo. I go the extra mile with my post production retouching and the techniques I’ve developed over the years help me achieve the look I’m after. For example a wedding is a loving and romantic occasion and I try to convey that in every image I take on the day so that I can produce a digital story for the couple that they can cherish for many years to come.
Which ways are you promoting your business at the moment?
Through my website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. I post images as often as I can and slowly but surely I’m getting likes and my name out there. I’ve tried pay per click with Google before but that didn’t really work for me. I recently tried an ad campaign through Facebook with a very small budget over ten days. The ad reached over 2,500 people but unfortunately no enquiry’s. My next step is to go to wedding fairs and try to get business face to face with couples who are planning their big day.
Do you have a website?
Yes, which I built myself.
How did you find designing your website yourself?
I’ve been dabbling with websites for a number of years now so I found it relatively easy but with some major headaches along the way as the learning curve with my current platform provider was quite steep. I’ve now got the hang of it, so I can make changes quickly and whenever I want.
Which search engine optimisation techniques have you used?
Nearly every image is described with alt tags and keywords embedded. On each page I’ve also got relevant keywords in the text. I transferred my domain to my current platform provider as my previous site was old and non-responsive making my site not very user friendly. I’m also working my way through business directories and making sure all my details are correct on all the free listings.
Do you have a business plan?
To make it work! The plan is in my head regarding how I want it to develop and all the things I need to do. I think social media will play a big part but also bringing my portfolio up to date and going to wedding fairs … I need to attend face-to-face, live events which I know will bring in the business.
So, if you’re thinking about hiring a professional photographer for your next special occasion you can contact Cyrus via:
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!
You can contact us via the social media methods below or call us on 01708 578 015.
Christine Huntingford, CEO, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing will be one of the guest speakers at the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (HCCI) breakfast meeting this Friday (13 July). She will talk about how businesses need to invest in their website and digital marketing; in order to stay ahead of the competition. Breakfast meetings are free to members and guests are welcome too.
As a local business owner, it is likely that your days are filled working with for your customers with your specialist skill-set. If you are lucky to have a lot of referral work, it is likely that one day rolls into the next and one week into another and before you know it, that promise that you made to yourself that you will update your website, or that you will post more often on social media, falls to the way side.
If you are one you one of them, now is really is a good time to take stock and find out if what you are doing is really working for your business?
Ask yourself: when was the last time you really looked at your website? Does it really work for you in the way that you want it to? (- i.e. are you getting leads from it). Do you know how easy it is for potential customers to find you? Is your social media activity where it should be?
We all know that there is more that we can, and should, do. There are simple and relatively quick things that you can do that can make a big difference to your visibility online. Some elements cost you time, not money. And those that do cost money, can be scaled to what is affordable for you.
Come along on Friday 13 July to the Havering Museum in Romford and join the members and guests of the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry to hear Christine share ways for you to check if your website is easily found (or not); your website is the foundation of your digital marketing strategy and if that isn’t right, that is where you need to start first. From there we can build the blocks to ensure that you are engaging with potential customers on a regular basis.
The meeting starts at 7:30am for networking and the speakers will be presenting between 8am and 9am. There is a further opportunity to network until 9:30am.
Guests welcome: £10 on the door.
You may have noticed that the world we live in is changing…how we communicate, how we shop and how we do business. Many of these changes have come about as more and more people walk around with mini computers in their pockets. The owners of these Smart Phones range from the very young (many a lot younger than my 12 year daughter!) to the very old - my father wouldn’t thank me for mentioning his age (!). They have a worldwide appeal and their technology becomes more and more sophisticated with each passing year.
According to a recent survey of 170,000 adult internet users in 32 markets conducted by GlobalWebIndex 75% of adults that own a smartphone are using them to access the internet. That’s a lot of people!
If your business has a website that doesn’t convert for mobile users, you will be missing out on a massive market of potential customers and the real chance of increasing your profits. If you’re reading this blog and wondering how it is that you’ve never come across the term, ‘mobile strategy’ before – don’t worry, there is a way for you to catch up if you implement these 5 tips to creating a mobile strategy.
Tip 1 – ask questions
Before you begin creating your strategy, have a think about what you would like to achieve by asking yourself and/or your team some of the following. For example:
Tip 2 – do you want a mobile site or a mobile application?
If your business has a website you will want it to be mobile responsive. This means that users will not have to download anything to view your information properly. The mobile site can detect the user’s device and automatically format the content for optimal viewing on that platform.
Mobile applications require a device-specific download from a marketplace, such as the Apple App Store or the Android Market. Whether you choose to incorporate a mobile site or mobile application as part of your strategy, you will want to ensure that the information is clear and concise – thus easy to understand. Make the user experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. You want to encourage people to return or recommend your service and/or product.
Tip 3 – combine the use of Social Media into your campaign
We all know the power and influence social media platforms have, so now it’s time to think about how best to turn their strength to your advantage. Each social media platform offers tools that enable you to listen to, engage with and monitor your audience.
Did you know that 40% of Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook users have purchased something after watching and sharing it? This means that your mobile strategy should integrate with your social media platforms. This includes sharing reviews, having social sharing buttons and creating content that is both engaging for your audience and promoted through social media ads.
Tip 4 – create different device campaigns
It’s common that households today have multiple laptops, tablets and smartphones that cater for the uses of all the family. According to KISSMetrics, “over 40% of smartphone users watch TV while browsing a smartphone.” Because people are now adept at multi-tasking on this level, it’s important that marketing campaigns are adjusted to take into account the device, location and time of day of the end user. This way, you will be able to maximise your return on investment by delivering content that is relevant to different members of your audience.
Tip 5 – send out timely alerts
Have you ever found yourself checking your phone even when it’s not made one of those little ‘ping’ noises? Well you’re not alone. If you have done your research and truly know your audience and the time they would like to receive these alerts, take advantage of people wanting to look busy by sending out notifications of your latest discounts, savings or next big event.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and is offered as a starting point to help businesses create a strategy.
Have you found this article useful? Give us your feedback and let us know how you have implemented your mobile strategy. We’d love to hear from you!
It was back in January 2018 when I, Christine Huntingford, one of the founders at Perfect Layout Digital Marketing attended the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) networking event in Havering.
It was there that I bumped into Simon Lewin, Business Growth Manager (BGM) from Building Legacies. He got talking to me about how he, as a BGM, helped start-ups and young companies with business mentoring free of charge.
My first question was, what ‘free’ free? To which Simon said ‘yes’. He explained that Building Legacies is a fully funded business support programme, delivered in partnership by Newham College Centre for Innovation and Partnerships (CIPs) and East London Business Place (ELBP), that offers tailored solutions for London-based Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) seeking competitive business advantage.
After the meeting I did some more research and found that Building Legacies is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the purpose of delivering a support programme that tackles gaps in SMMEs’:
This chance meeting with Simon was a serendipitous opportunity to acquire a business mentor that would guide Perfect Layout Digital Marketing to grow and expand both its business acumen and client base…all without charge!
We saw the immediate benefits and following the completion of some necessary paperwork, we met with Simon.
Our first meeting involved answering lots of questions about what we did, how we did things and the processes we had in place to help us do our work. He carried out a full business needs analysis.
Perfect Layout is a company still in its infancy. Whilst there is a lot that we have achieved on our journey so far, there are still many more things to think about, improve on and processes to put in place that will help us grow and succeed.
We came away from our first meeting proud of our accomplishments and achievements to date. It was a most worthwhile exercise that allowed us to focus on our business and have an experienced eye constructively critique how we currently do things. It also gave us the opportunity to cement the ideas that we had for the next stage of our business development.
Our BGM Simon, is interested and eager to see us achieve and do well. He can often be a tough cookie (meant in the nicest possible way!) but his intentions are good in that he constantly challenges our thinking and our processes. He offers valuable advice on matters that are currently affecting us and is happy to put us on the spot to do exercises and role play that could help us gain our next client.
Our task, following this meeting, was to develop our Business Plan in more detail. The Business Plan template that Simon presented us with was very comprehensive and we realised that much more research was needed as well as a more thorough look at our competitors.
It took time to work on the Business Plan but being firm believers in setting aside time to work on the business as well as in the business, we put our heads down and got writing. We headed into the second meeting pleased with the progress that we had made on the Plan.
Simon challenged us again with further questions - making us think even harder about our business. His points were valid and we discussed various ideas, some that we had already thought about but not yet actioned, others that were new and got us excited. We left that day exhausted but satisfied with our progress. On our to-do list that day was the task of preparing a Three-Year Sales Forecast, which we are currently working on.
Whilst it’s only been a couple of months, our journey so far with Building Legacies has been rich and rewarding. The support and areas of focus that we are currently working on is pushing us harder and faster than we would have done otherwise.
We have been provided with expert business guidance that has opened our eyes and encouraged us to focus on areas of the business that we may not have addressed at this stage. It has also provided us with the opportunity to think about ways of expanding our product offering.
We feel very grateful to have bumped into Simon at that networking event. Not only have we received great mentoring (as described above) we have also been offered the option to attend free training workshops and been introduced to business owners in need of new websites or help with their digital marketing.
Building Legacies offers this programme predominantly (but not exclusively) to companies in construction, digital/creative and care-related sectors. Their aim is to assist them in becoming better businesses by providing tailored solutions through:
For SMMEs that take part, they will find themselves considering; new and legacy market opportunities; locating new customer bases and identifying and capitalising on new opportunities to grow their business.
The Building Legacies business support programme is one that we would highly recommend. If you are in East London with a new business idea or your company has a turnover of less than £5m, seriously consider being mentored by Simon or one of his colleagues. It’s a challenging process that is extremely rewarding.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this scheme, you must complete and return a registration form. To get this, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 7537 6480.
For more information visit: https://buildinglegacies.co.uk/
Come and join Perfect Layout Digital Marketing tomorrow for St Peter’s Primary School Summer Fayre.
If you’re free on Saturday 30 June betwen 11am - 3pm, have a fun day out with your family and help a local school provide better services for their pupils. There is lots going on in the Fun Zone, dedicated to the younger children, including a bouncy castle and a petting zoo. There will be face painting, arts and crafts too. for the adults, enjoy a glass of Pimms or Beer to go with your burger or sausage from the BBQ. The school is located on Dorset Avenue in Romford.
All monies raised by the event will directly help the Parents' Association fund equipment and activities for the children.
When people think of branding, they often associate it with having a great logo or a memorable name. But branding goes far beyond the visual aspects of your business. So what exactly is a brand?
The short answer is: everything.
Your brand includes things such as the look and feel of your website, your customer service and how you engage on social media. It represents every single aspect of your business. Your company’s branding will influence what people think about your business and whether they perceive your brand as being reliable, fun, modern, attractive, cutting edge etc.
Beyond just having a memorable logo, good branding increases the value of your company. For larger organisations it provides employees with a purpose and direction. When done correctly it can make getting new customers easier. When all of these parts of the business are working well, the overall brand tends to be in a good position.
After formalising a company, anyone serious about their new business will set themselves the tasks of:
Now whilst these are all essential and worthwhile jobs has thought gone into how the branding of the company fits in? Is it being done in the right way?
Let’s take a look at how the brand impacts your business:
It’s not surprising that the first thing people associate with branding is the logo; as it’s the first component that people tend to see. Logo design is critical because that simple graphic or icon will be on everything that you do. A professional logo design should be created so that it is simple enough to be remembered - but it must also convey the desired impression of your company.
A professional appearance builds credibility and trust. People are more likely to purchase from a business that appears professional and polished, rather than something that looks ‘cobbled together’ or done on a very tight budget. Getting this step wrong could seriously impact the success of your business. Once you have established a (bad) reputation, it’s hard to change it.
Positive recognition is essential because it develops a good relationship between your business and your customers.
Trust and Confidence
People are more likely to buy again from a company when their first experience was good, or when someone has recommended them. Through their own experience they too build confidence and trust with you and your products or services. Once you start to be recognised, you begin to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Strong brands can feel like an extension of you. Just think of the products you buy that you just wouldn’t buy from any other brand.
A strong brand, with a professional structure behind it, will begin to build loyalty. Once all the aforementioned factors are working in harmony, you are likely to have a customer base that will keep coming back for more.
Advertising is another component of your brand strategy. It is essential for your business to bring customers to you and communicate to the world what your business offers. If it resonates with your would-be customer, then your brand will draw them to your business.
It is important to have thought through what you want to advertise, how you want to advertise and where and when you want to advertise. Not thinking through your message and tactics properly may not achieve the desired effect that you want. If done badly, it could lose you money and damage your brand.
Branding enables your company to get referral business from those that are now loyal to you. This is where all companies want to be, as it is the most profitable advertising source. Word-of-mouth referrals are only possible where you have built a solid reputation on delivering a great product or service.
Let customers engage with your brand
Being on social media will allow customers the opportunity to engage directly with your brand. You can do this by simply creating a hashtag for your business, which should feature in every post you publish. This will help people remember the brand if they see this in every post.
Branding motivates employees
Many people choose the companies they want to work for because they are aligned with their ethos and practices. People often aren’t simply looking for work, but looking for their ideal employer. When employees understand your mission and reason for being, they are more likely to feel that same pride and passion and will align their attitude with the company’s.
Take the time to invest in your brand
Unfortunately, many businesses don’t prioritise branding and this is a huge mistake. Poor branding impacts your business in many negative ways and can threaten the survival of your company. Your brand is the face of your business. How do you want people to feel about your brand?
Invest the time, energy and resources to develop a brand that you’re proud of. This is not a quick win – good branding takes time and planning. But remember that it’s worth the investment and it will help boost your profits.
If you need advice on branding for your business or are looking for a website design in Essex, then look no further. Call Perfect Layout Digital Marketing on 01708 578 015, email us at email@example.com or complete the contact form below.
So we landed in Las Vegas yesterday afternoon for this year’s annual conference. It’s the first year that we are attending. As with any industry conference, you have to decide which are the right ones for you. You need to evaluate what you are going to gain from it and consider whether or not it will see a return on your investment.
We knew that this was the year that we were going to make it to Las Vegas and that it would tick all three boxes. Whilst we could have saved ourselves the expense of the trip, and watched the online videos when they became available, we decided that we had to be there to gain the most from the experience. It was time to head on over to meet our peers face-to-face, share our experiences and learn from theirs.
The 10-hour flight passed quickly (thanks Virgin for your stream of food and drinks - though your entertainment system’s touch screen was frustrating to say the least!). The two-hour wait to make it through passport control was not so much fun. By the time we got to our hotel, we were feeling the strain of the long day.
A little siesta helped recharge the batteries and we soaked up the bright, brash adult theme park that is Vegas. The temperature was high and the desert wind felt like someone was blowing a hairdryer over our bodies as we walked the strip - it took some getting used to!
Today, our bodies have adjusted to the US time-zone. We have explored the hotel and got our bearings for the conference tomorrow. There are plans on the Facebook group to meet up with delegates later and we can’t wait…
These next few days, will bring us up to speed with digital marketing changes and give us the opportunity to immerse ourselves with experts who have walked the path that we are walking on. We hope to make new friendships, some that may last a lifetime.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that things will work out and we can already feel that this will happen.
We will keep posting on our learnings and adventures, so watch this space!
Christine Huntingford, CEO, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing will be one of the guest speakers at the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (HCCI) breakfast meeting in July.
Many business owners are busy working ‘in’ their business and rarely take the time to work ‘on’ their business. Are you one of them?
When was the last time you really looked at your website? Does it really work for you in the way that you want it to - i.e. are you getting leads from it? Do you know how easy it is for potential customers to find you? Is your social media activity where it should be?
We all know that there is more that we can, and should, do. Often the, ‘time thief’, prevents us from taking action. But there are simple and relatively quick things that you can implement (if you haven’t already) that can make a big difference. Some elements cost you time, not money. And those that do cost money, can be scaled to what is affordable for you.
Come along on Friday 13 July to the Havering Museum in Romford and join the members and guests of the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry to hear Christine share ways for you to check if your website is easily found (or not) and things that you can implement quickly.
The meeting starts at 7:30am for networking and the speakers will be presenting between 8am and 9am. There is a further opportunity to network until 9:30am.
Guests welcome: £10 on the door.
Have you been gripped by World Cup fever? Wherever you live in the world, it would be hard to avoid the pull of watching two teams of grown men kicking a ball about. Whether you’re an ardent fan or occasional watcher, like myself, every four years I find that I am drawn into the highs and lows of watching a sport that unites the world.
It’s the world-wide appeal of this tournament that intrigues me. That a ball, kicked about by 22 men, is able to grab the attention of so many different people, from countries across the world, that are from such varied walks of life. A marketer’s dream!
Imagine having a target audience of billions that is ready to buy a wide range of products associated with the event and the nations home team… football kits, balls, books, clothes, teddy bears and hair accessories are just a few items that established businesses and budding entrepreneurs with a keen eye for making quick money are ready to sell to a hungry public.
If you are one of the billions of people already glued to their TVs – here are a few facts about this event that may surprise you:
Whilst these amounts of money are positively eye-watering, it just shows that money really does make the world go around! Are you ready to get your portion by having your website reach the target audience it deserves? Get in touch on 01708 578 015 if you’re ready to make that happen.
The Perfect Layout has a team of copywriters that can create relevant content for your website. Having a team means that we are able to provide a wide ranging bespoke copywriting service that caters for all markets.
You will have seen us write about content in our blogs before. The importance of content on your website relates not only to the visitors to your site, but also when it comes to being found by search engines like Google. We understand the importance and will ensure that the language of the text:
• reflects you – the face behind the business
• your ethos – what your business stands for
• and describes your services and products in a way that will engage your customers and allow them
to quickly grasp what you do
It’s paramount to create content that people will be interested in reading and that’s exactly what we do. Our process is simple. We will meet with you face-to-face or arrange a time to Skype or talk to you on the phone. We are good at asking questions and the more questions we ask, the more we will be able to write in a way that sounds like you. We want to hear how you would speak to prospective clients so that when it comes to writing about what you do, it will be as though you wrote it yourself.
We will ask questions like:
These are questions you could ask yourself now. Does the content on your website answer these enquiries? If not, it may be time to either re-write your content or give us a call.
The fact is, whether you are in the line of work that provides a locksmith service or have just started your own firm of solicitors – the principles behind asking these types of questions remain the same. For every service, we’ll incorporate relevant facts that are appropriate. For example, your new firm of solicitors will need to include an overview of how the law impacts on what you do for your clients. It’s always key to remember who your target audience is to ensure that your services can be understood and accessed by as many people as possible.
The content we produce will also incorporate keywords relevant to your sector. Are you a locksmith that is able to change the locks to only certain doors? If so, describe the type of doors. Do your services cover a certain area? If so, describe the services you provide and where. Does your business offer a 24 hour lock changing service? If yes, then say how and where your out of hours facility works.
Think of pertinent questions that your customer might ask and answer them.
That way you will begin to build a picture of your business that will contain relevant keywords to get you found by your customers as well as the search engines.
Other than listening to what you need, our service also includes offering ideas that will help draw out the best aspects of your business.
For example, ideas that will:
• make you stand out from your competitors
• incorporate current trends within your industry that should be included in your content
• include changes that are occurring in the local area that could have an affect your service
Get in touch if you feel that your content is in need of being re-worked. The bottom line is, great content will get you noticed for all the right reasons!
Give Perfect Layout Digital Marketing a call on 01708 578 015, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the contact form below.
If your business has a website, it is important not to see yourself as a stand-alone island with no links to other shores. If you want your island to be successful it needs to have connections with other islands that are well connected too.
In other words, having your website is just one of the steps of having a good online presence. However, it is imperative to take the time to list your business on other online directories too; so that they not only promote your services, but also add authority that you’re a current and valid business to approach.
When creating your listing on directories, like Thomson; on websites like NetMums, or on social media platforms like Facebook, you should include as much information about your business as possible. This includes giving obvious information such as your name, address and phone number (NAP).
Google My Business has made many changes to their features (read our article: What's new with Google My Business?). All businesses should list their information on it as a starting point in creating citations.
Why is it worth taking the time to cite your business on directories?
It allows you to be found by a greater number of customers through search engines like Google. The more directories your business is cited on, the better chance you will have for your business to rank highly in organic search.
With the majority of users turning to their mobile device to look for products, information and services, online directories help facilitate being found at any time, from anywhere. Do you want to miss out on potential business because you didn’t take the time to invest in this digital strategy?
Each directory company will offer different features, but this is what you may be asked to provide:
Listing a business on a directory is not difficult, but it can be time consuming. If you choose to give it a go yourself, make sure you do the job properly. If you don’t, it could affect your income, online rankings as well as your reputation.
Follow these tips to ensure that search engines, like Google, view you as a business that’s real and trustworthy and ultimately worth ranking:
Remember, citations that are accurate will help your business get noticed. So what are you waiting for?
If you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to do this, the team at Perfect Layout can help you. Fill in your details below and we’ll get in touch to find out more about your business.
By filling out this form, we will only contact you regarding this matter; we respect your data.
If you have accessed your Google My Business (GMB) listing recently you may have noticed some changes. Whilst you may think, ‘here we go again, another thing to add to my to-do list’ it is worth taking the time to update your profile and ensure that everything is relevant and fresh.
If you are a small business you will know that reaching a wide customer base can be tricky. With this free-to-use profile, invest the time to make your business shine. Be one of the leaders in this change making sure that your profile is singing your praises from the rooftops.
If you haven’t created a Google My Business listing, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing recommends that you do. Not only does it show the essence of what your business has to offer, but the new features means that this platform is more attractive than before.
Why is local SEO so important?
If you are a local business, local SEO could have a huge impact on the success or failure of your business. You can use local SEO to outrank the competition. The relevant information is accessible for everyone to take advantage of and whilst many local businesses spend their time running their business, digital marketing is usually at the bottom of their list of things to do.
For companies making use of local SEO and in the case of Google My Business, taking advantage of the new features demonstrates to potential customers that they are: staying up-to-date, that they are knowledgeable and well-informed and that they are taking strides to separate themselves from the competition. The result is that it can help secure potential customers more easily. Would you like this to be you?
So what’s new with the Google My Business Listing?
This is a snapshot of the most important information that a potential customer may be interested in The information section includes opening hours, reviews, address, phone number etc.
Ok, so what’s so great about the description feature? Well it’s back! And that IS exciting. When Google My Business was called Google Places, the description section about your company was available, but then they took it away. Now all businesses have the opportunity to describe the wonder of their business on GMB in 750 words or less. Make sure you spend time writing a description that will attract customers to engage with you.
In 2017, Google released a new messaging feature, which allows you to 'live message' with customers directly from the search results page. So if a customer has a quick question, when you have this function enabled they can send you a message and in an instant you can reply…talk about fabulous customer service before they have even come to you!
If your information changes, like your business location, name, or telephone number, Google will allow you to easily make updates to your dashboard. This is another feature that they once removed but has resurfaced again and it is this tool that will help you make changes more easily.
Yes Google My Business Photos has added video content as a feature. Posting videos on your listing can help encourage customers to stay on your listing for longer and therefore find out more about you. These videos can give you the edge to your competitors. Currently, video clips are limited to 30 seconds in length and they will feature next to the photo section.
If the business you own is a restaurant and your listing is categorised as a restaurant (vs a café or bistro), Google have been thinking hard about you guys. Restaurant owners can now add and edit menus on their Google My Business listing. There is now a facility that will allow you to categorise the food into sections, such as starters, mains and desserts, as well as adding descriptions and prices.
Again, this is a powerful tool that can help you stand out from the crowd. Why is your restaurant different from the others in your area, what makes you special? Do you have something unique? Do you have special offers? Remember to include as much information as you can to help you stand out and get the diners through the door.
‘Posts’ is the most exciting feature that looks to have a big impact on local businesses and their local search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. The feature will allow businesses to quickly connect with customers, both new and old, in a unique and attention grabbing way.
Posts allow you to share content with people who are searching for terms related to your business. It can be seen as a cross between social media marketing and search engine optimisation. It not only allows you to increase the visibility of your business, it also offers a way in which you can give deeper information about your services and products, that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. You can also post links to your website and include call to action buttons like ‘Buy’ or ‘Learn More’. Using Posts also helps you to get more of the organic search impressions and clicks.
When you decide to include Posts on Google as part of your local SEO strategy, remember that this task will never stop. This is another beast that will need constant feeding. However, it is worth giving it a try. What have you got to lose versus how much do you have to gain?
If all of this just seems too much, help is at hand. Give Perfect Layout Digital Marketing a call on 01708 578015, or fill out the quick form below so we can get in touch with you.
If you complete this form, we will only contact you to ask you about GMB listings.
Three months ago my life changed in an amazing way. What happened? I hear you cry! Did I get married, move home, win the lottery, have a baby? It was none of the above, although I would liken it to having a baby - we got a puppy!
So what’s getting a puppy got to do with websites? Nothing directly, but the stress, newness and challenges it has bought into my life has yet again altered my perspective on business life. Let me explain…
My husband had been researching the Basenji breed for the last two years and over that time he’d been like a scratched record talking about the benefits of owning one: the privilege it would be to own a primitive breed, the exercise and fresh air it would force us to get and the responsibility it would give the kids whilst learning to care for her.
What he failed to elaborate on was exactly how hard it would be in the beginning. The sleepless nights. The biting. The constant peeing and pooing everywhere....It’s a lot to take on board when you’re working full time and running a home! To be honest, I think he too was surprised at the massive impact she has had on our lives.
But life is too short not take risks on the unknown he told me – and he was right. It was time to take a leap of faith and take on a challenge that would ultimately benefit the whole family. I’ve put the time in with training her each day, creating a family rota of who does what/when and voila - things have gotten soooo much better! Now I can really see the advantages of having a dog.
Getting a website, may feel a little like getting a dog. Daunting, hard work, uncharted territory...but do the research with various suppliers before you commit. Ask questions about how they will provide support for your website and make sure you’re getting value for your money.
Our dog Darcy has added a new light and element of joy to our household. She has benefited our well-being. Having an online presence will benefit your business by bringing new customers your way and turn those leads into real profits.
Perfect Layout can speak your language and dissect the ins and outs of how our services can help your business. The results may not be immediate, but the payback from investing your time and money will eventually see a return.
You can expect from us:
You never know until you try – so get in touch today so that we can help grow your business. Call us on 01708 578015.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. This is a new legislation, enforced by the European Commission, which aims to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU), whilst also addressing the use and dissemination of personal data outside the EU.
The two main objectives of GDPR are to:
1) give individuals back control of their personal data
2) simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU
The key changes of GDPR from the Data Protection Act 1998 fall under the following areas:
To understand the full details for each of these areas take a look at the EU GDPR website.
GDPR is intended for every business that collects and stores data and the GDPR recognises that smaller businesses need to be treated differently to large or public companies. Article 30 of the regulation declares that organisations with fewer than 250 employees do not need to strictly follow GDPR. That said though, when you read the stipulations, it is highly recommended that they do.
The penalties for not being compliant are high; including individuals being able to seek for compensation from businesses that abuse their data. This applies to both large and small companies.
How will this change when we leave the EU?
Although the UK has voted to leave the EU, UK businesses will need to follow these regulations if the data they handle is about EU individuals. GDPR replaces the UK 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA), and will continue to do so once Brexit has been implemented.
Perfect Layout hopes that this article has helped you to understand some basics about GDPR and has signposted you to some useful resources. We highlight to all our clients the importance of GDPR, especially when it comes to collecting data via their websites. If you have any question, give us a call on 01708 578 015.
Perfect Layout Digital Marketing is supporting the local community and is happy to be supporting the Summer Fayre at St Peter’s Primary School this year.
If you’re free on Saturday 30 June from 11am - 3pm, come along and have a fun day out with your family and help a local school provide better services for their pupils. The school is located on Dorset Avenue in Romford.
All monies raised by the event will directly help the Parents' Association fund equipment and activities for the children.
Last night we attended the Your Business Community (YBC) mega networking event at Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street.
Organised and run by, Ted, Mia and Paul - they were excellent hosts that championed getting to know each other in a relax and friendly way.
It helped that this free event offered an open bar of wine, beer, orange juice and water for the evening as well as a selection of hot snacks.
YBC presented us with a platform that had many open doors of possibilities and we spoke to as many as we could over the next three hours. People had travelled from all over London and the Home Counties to participate. Some were veteran members and others were like us, attending for the first time.
We chatted and mingled with some great people and heard some inspiring stories of how businesses had been started and breathed into being. The passion and enthusiasm were infectious and whilst not every chat was a potential lead, the energy and drive of these stories will help feed our own determination to succeed.
Not every networking event will end up with you obtaining a new client. But what it can do, if you make the effort, is recharge your batteries and help keep your mindset positively focused on the limitless opportunities that your business may bring your way.
We have found that whoever we spoke to, they were able to either ignite an idea in our minds, or share a story of common interest. Rarely was a conversation not worth the time spent with that person.
Your business is worth working on, as well as working in. Keep your business fresh and up-to-date by hearing how others are offering their services. Maybe it’s a way that you’d never thought of before that could save you time and make you money.
Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from achieving your goals and dreams. Take a risk, try something new and quash forever the negative power of your imagination. Often the thinking about something is a million times worse than the actual doing and at the YBC events there will always be a friendly face just around the corner...
There are good websites and there are bad websites. If you have had a website for a while, but you find that you are not getting much from it, in terms of traffic, leads, calls etc, it could be that people are finding your website tricky to navigate or difficult to find the right information. I know it’s hard, but every six months or so, it is worth doing an audit of your website with, 'a fresh pair of eyes’, to check that everything is relevant and it all still makes sense.
Is it mobile-optimised?
The first thing to check is whether or not your website is on a mobile optimised platform? If not, the search engines will penalise your organic rankings. You will also find that customers, who have to pinch and expand the page to read the text, will more often bounce off to find another website that has a better user experience.
- Check: Is your website built on a mobile optimised platform?
Is your site easy to navigate with clear navigation buttons?
Most websites follow a similar structure which includes, a home page, an about page, pages on the services that you offer and a contact page. It may also be useful to have pages about the areas you serve, a portfolio of what you offer (whether it’s services or products) and even a testimonial page.
- Check: Are your navigation headers clear for a brand new visitor to understand?
Do you explain what you do?
It is all well and good you knowing what you do, but is this clear to your potential customers? If your business is selling products, do they have relevant descriptions that will help minimise the chance of those products being returned? If you offer a service, do you explain, in everyday language, what it is that you offer? When you work in a particular sector, it can become second nature to speak the jargon of that industry. But would everybody be able understand such specific terminology? Also make sure that you have clear headings throughout each page to make it easy to skim read. Often people are time-poor, so make your website a breeze to read through.
- Check: Is your website easy to understand? Ask a friend or family member to read through to see if it is clear to them. Do they have any questions about elements that remain unclear?
Can you add more visual elements to your website?
As they saying goes: ‘A photo tells a thousand words.’ Remember to include high resolution photos (that are saved for web) that convey clearly your products and services. If you offer a service then show before and after photos of projects that you have worked on. Be proud of the transformation that you can achieve.
- Check: What are the photos like on your site? Do you have relevant images that are crystal clear? Blurry photos will convey a slap-dash image of your company.
Do you have ways that customers can reach you?
The majority of users will be viewing your website on a mobile device. No longer is it OK to have your phone number only on the Contact Us page. Think about adding your contact details in your footer, so that it is easy to find you. If you are on a mobile optimised platform your web designer will be able to enable phone number hyperlinks, so that visitors can click on your number and call you straight away. Also think about other Call to Action buttons that you could include on each page.
- Check: How you can optimise better user engagement on every page, so that visitors can contact you immediately. Does your footer have contact details?
What are your customers saying about you?
If you are getting positive feedback from clients, then add this to your website. Why not create a testimonial page to enable new visitors to see what your customers think of you. Lots of lovely reviews will more likely result in a new visitor engaging with you.
- Check: When did you last upload a testimonial? Visitors will look for recent reviews, so keep adding them to your site.
Is your logo on your website?
Add your logo to the top left of your pages. The readers’ eyes will read from left to right and top to bottom. So by adding your logo to the top left will ensure that it is the first thing the reader sees. This implants your branding into their memory; making it easier to remember you when they re-visit your site.
- Check: Is your logo positioned in the top left hand corner?
For more user-friendly tips for your website visit Hubspot’s article.
Is your website in need of redesigning in order to make it a more user-friendly? Or perhaps you want to take this opportunity to start afresh? Either way, give Perfect Layout Digital Marketing a call on 01708 578 015.
Whatever you think about the royal family you’ve got to admire how they’ve moved with the times. Gone are the days when the head of the monarchy influenced the love choices of her children. The old days that saw decisions being made that were more about ensuring ‘best fit’ as opposed to encouraging ‘freedom of choice’.
When the money and privileges are stripped away, the royal family really is like any other family...they have their ups and downs; some family members don’t get on; and some are just plain embarrassing!
The point is, the royal family, as a brand, continues to successfully strengthen national unity and stability. I have always felt that, overall, the British public loves the Queen and her successes, disasters and numerous emotional rollercoasters that have made up part of her 65 year reign. The royal family is a global brand and is recognised in countries across the world.
On 19 May, all eyes worldwide, will be back on them as the marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle takes place at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Perfect Layout wish them all the best on their big day and we encourage you - our readers - to think about the branding of your business. Does it have what it takes to carry your products and services forward and produce a great income for the long term?
Get in touch if you require another perspective on how your website can help create for you a solid brand that will last the test of time.
As a business still finding its feet, you may have noticed from previous blogs that networking is something we actively promote.
Whether you’re a business start-up or have been established for over 20 years, if your objective is to make money, you should still undertake some form of networking. Why settle for your income to be okay when, for a little extra effort, your income could be amazing!
Yesterday, we attended The Business Show at Excel in London. It’s a free, two-day event that boasts: 350 exhibitors, 250 speakers, 170 masterclasses, 7 show features and much more. It was wonderfully busy with many exhibitors vying to catch your attention, find out what you do and pitch their products and services.
If you’re thinking about attending our tips are:
This event has the opportunity to open the door to: an idea that’s been in your head for ages; a service provider you can collaborate with; a product that can make how you work more efficient and effective. So why wait to take those steps and grow your business?
Get your diary out now and find out the next time The Business Show will be in your vicinity. It may just be the event that will take your business to the next level.
Take a look at your website. Does it convey the culture of your business and your personality?
All too often websites are faceless. The tone of the content is formal and photos have been uploaded from stock libraries that don’t truly reflect the nature of the services and/or products.
If you offer a service, where you start and finish a project, nothing will truly convey who you are and what you do better than visual files - whether that be photos or videos. We live in a world where social media is a dominating part of our lives, where reading one post can lead to 30 minutes of unplanned surfing…So why not turn this time and energy observing from the outside, to becoming somebody that is observed? By putting your real presence into your website, your personality will shine through in a positive way that will get you noticed and potentially earn you income creating leads.
Even if what you offer is a generic service, your website can incorporate a portfolio of the work you have undertaken. Excellent ways of capturing this are by having before and after shots or images that detail the progress more in-depth. If you’re not good at taking photos, why not hire a photographer that is willing to follow you around for a day or two, taking photos while you work. These don’t need to be staged, they can be documentary-style photos capturing you in a natural way.
We live in a competitive age, where businesses that do the same as you are peering over your digital shoulder. It’s important that you take the time and think of ways you can stand above the opposition and entice people to choose you over them.
There are other ways to make your website reflect your personality and below is our sum up of some definite, 'must do's'.
5 tips to making your website look unique:
Tip 1 Use great photos - make them personal and relevant to your services and products. Your personality will come across if customers can see you at work; see your work in progress; or have the opportunity to view your end results.
Tip 2 Videos that show your services/products are an excellent way of showing what you do in a different way. If you're confident in front of the camera, allow your personality to shine in front of your customers.
Tip 3 The content on your website can also convey the person behind the business. Whilst you want to avoid grammatical mistakes and spelling errors at all costs, your voice should also come through to relay what your business does in a way that attracts the right customers.
Tip 4 Pay attention to the layout of your imagery and content. Each page should be thoughtfully considered to ensure that your user has the best visitor experience possible.
Tip 5 Does your business have a unique name and image? Branding your business will help establish your foothold in your market. Deciding on a logo, colours and font all help to differentiate you from competitors and attract online visitors.
If your website could do with a makeover, give Perfect Layout Digital Marketing a call. We can help you decide in which direction to redesign your website as well as recommending logo and branding designers, and documentary photographers to make your website shine!
Are you a local company in the Essex area that would like to connect with new customers? If the answer is yes - why not get in touch so that you can feature in our bi-monthly blog, Interview with...
The purpose of this blog spot is for Perfect Layout to get to know local businesses better and 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 local businesses. Attracting customers to the Essex area is paramount if independent companies are to thrive. As a result, we are keen to promote the new, bold and varied companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Read on to find out more about a talented designer that may just have that niche gift you've been looking for...
Business name: Ashare Designs
Owner: Lucy Joseph
What type of business is Ashare Designs?
It’s a product design business, specialising in laser cut, home décor and personalised gifts.
How long have you been in business for?
Since March 2017.
How did you come up with your business name?
The name has been inspired by the names of my children. Two names have been joined together to make Ashare.
What type of items does Ashare Designs make?
Personalised home décor, wall décor and personalised gifts like keyrings and keepsake boxes. I’ve also started making cake toppers. Any message can be made to make a cake look even better.
How did your design idea come about? Are you self-taught? Had formal training?
I teach design and technology across a range of years as well as GCSE and A’ level students. I teach them how to design and create products. This idea came to me because you can only teach to a certain level with students. I felt that I wasn’t using my skills to my full potential and because people would always want to make things, I wanted to turn my passion into a business. I knew I could make commercial products. I also wanted to spend more time at home with the kids and running my own business at home means that I can make money from something I enjoy doing which is a bonus.
Is this a full-time job for you?
At the moment it’s not. I do this part-time as I’m also a secondary school teacher of Design and Technology.
Who are your main customers?
People through Etsy, family and friends of friends. Mainly female customers at the moment, which I think is due to women having more of an eye for buying personalised gifts.
Do you have any staff?
How much do your personalised gifts sell for?
Costs for these items range from £5 to about £50 at the moment.
How do you reach out to your customers as I note that you don’t have a website?
I use social media at the moment. Facebook, Etsy and Instagram. I’m seeing most of my customers come from Instagram. I always try to put the words ‘personalised’ in the taglines. I see a lot of the types of products that I’m able to produce on the ‘Not on the High Street’ website. I wouldn’t want to advertise my goods on there as it’s a bit pricey and I want to keep my products affordable for all.
What advice would you give small businesses that sell their products on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram?
You’ve got to stay active and you have to try and build up a genuine following. You have to post frequently as well as comment on posts too. Asking questions, like ‘Which do you prefer?’ helps with the engagement of your followers. I also run competitions, i.e. when I reach a 1,000 followers (that have to provide a comment), I randomly choose a winner and send them a gift. I would class being active as posting 1 or 2 photos a day. Accessing brand reps to promote your products is also a good way to generate visibility.
What types of businesses do you think would benefit from using Etsy and Facebook?
Anything niche. Etsy is more craft based and is an arty type of shop. Facebook can be used by any type of business. But as your business gets bigger it becomes more about networking and you would eventually need a website to take orders etc.
How’s business going since you first started out?
It’s good. I’m not as active as I could be because I’m trying to keep it small and manageable.
Whilst your business is doing well on Etsy/Facebook, have you thought about growing your business with the benefit of having a website?
Yes, that would be the next step once I build up a better client base.
Do you have a marketing strategy? Both digital and non-digital.
At the moment, my plan is to continue using the social media platforms.
If you had the power to re-set the clock regarding the setting up of Ashare Designs, what would you do differently?
I would perhaps have made it more streamlined. I had an idea in the beginning that I would create one new product per week and add that to the range. This would then have been part of the social media promotion regarding posts, but it didn’t really happen.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Continue to design more products and add to the range.
Where do you see Ashare Designs in 5 years’ time?
I’d like to be in a position where someone else can help with orders and I can oversee the business more.
So, if you’re looking for a gift that offers an extra special something, how about you check out some of Lucy’s creations. The products from her shop can be seen via:
Facebook - asharedesigns
Etsy – www.esty.com/uk/shop/asharedesigns
Instagram - @ashare_designs
Email – email@example.com
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!
The thought of networking can fill some people with dread. They can’t think of anything worse than being in a room full of strangers. I have been there myself too.
I used to run and manage events when I was in the magazine media industry. Because it was ‘my’ event, many of the delegates that were there, I had spoken to before via emails and/or phone calls so striking up a conversation face-to-face was much easier. However, there were occasions when I attended other events and found myself in a room full of complete strangers. It was so daunting! Especially when I saw clusters of people already chatting – I assumed they already knew each other…or did they?
Over the years, I learned two top tips that I would like to share with you now:
I remember once being at an awards night and there, during the welcome drinks reception, was a well-known comedian looking a little bit lonely and awkward. He was watching people milling about below from where he was standing on a balcony. I went over and said ‘hi’. As it turned out, a magazine that he was writing a column for was up for an award. We had a chat for a short while and before we parted company he thanked me for coming over and introducing myself. So remember, even those in the public eye that appear confident can turn up to an event and feel anxious and alone. As humans, we all appreciate someone extending a welcoming hand of friendship, however fleeting that may be.
Networking events…why should you bother?
It’s simple; people buy from people. If you find that you are not getting enough new business in and you could do with new opportunities, it’s time to get out and network.
As a business owner, I believe that it is extremely important to participate in this activity and network as much as your diary will allow. The bottom line is that you just don’t know who you are going to meet and what opportunities may arise - and that’s the exciting part of it! Perhaps you will find someone who requires your service, or meet a company that can provide you with a must have product. If nothing else you can find out what is going on in your community and begin building important links and form long lasting relationships.
Last week, the YBC – Your Business Community launched a new meet up in our local area. That morning we chatted to 20 other business owners who were looking to make connections with other businesses. As digital marketing specialists, we are in a sector where people will want to talk to us about their website or aspects of digital marketing that they may have questions about.
Investing your time in building and developing long-term relationships won’t necessarily translate into immediate profits, but it is the start of building strong businesses in the medium to long term and provide other additional benefits.
Here are nine reasons how networking can be beneficial for your business:
1. Fine-tuning your elevator pitch
Getting out there and introducing yourself regularly soon teaches you the best way to get your message across. At first it can be hard (maybe even nerve-wracking), but practice and familiarity soon makes it feel like second nature. If you’re just starting out, it is worth spending time writing out a couple of paragraphs about your business and repeating it in different ways, to different people. This will help you sound natural and confident when it comes to speaking for real in front of a new group of networking potentials.
2. Fostering word-of-mouth recommendations
This is the crux of why people network. The more people you are able to pass your business message onto, the more recommendations you will get. Successful businesses are built on referrals.
3. Finding Suppliers
As a business owner you will need a wealth of suppliers to run the various aspects of your business: from accountants, IT support, insurance brokers etc. At networking events you will come across these types of professionals, and many others. Finding suppliers that network often provides opportunities for two-way business. And even if you don’t directly get business from them, you don’t know who they know...
4. Finding a connection to someone you’re trying to get an introduction with
Six degrees of separation - anything is possible. Everyone wants to meet someone. As a general rule, there are never more than six people between you and the person you want to talk to. Networking is a way to access otherwise inaccessible people.
5. Learning from other peoples experiences
Networking groups are full of people with lots of business experiences who are often very willing to share their knowledge. Successful business people are usually generous with offering advice to people that are eager to learn and open to listening. So don't be shy, ask that question that's been bothering you and get an answer that's based on real life experience.
6. Welcoming new opportunities
Networking events will often have presentations. These specialists will offer you their expertise and help you perhaps think differently. Maybe you will find new ideas to reach potential clients or realise that there are different target markets that were not on your radar. People you meet at networking events may identify new market opportunities you hadn't thought of before and open the door to new partnerships being forged.
7. Inspiration from other sectors
Talking to others and asking questions about how they run their business – even if it’s a different business to yours – may inspire you to adapt those ideas, processes and innovations into your own business.
8. Sharing experiences
Business owners share a common energy and drive to want to succeed. Business people, who have the same challenges as you do, are often willing to share their experiences and offer solutions – this is when two heads are better than one.
9. Making new friends
Although your primary focus is building business contacts, networking can also create new friendships. When you share your ideas and your enthusiasm for your business with like-minded people, they are going to connect with you. Strong friendships combined with strong business connections can be a powerful way to build your overall network.
What networking events are out there?
As a digital marketing company based in Havering, Essex, here are some regular networking events that we have come across:
Networking can deliver more return on investment than any other tool in business. Those who believe in networking agree that in both financial and non-financial terms their network has delivered a lot of value.
Getting results from networking can take a while. People who buy from people, will usually invest time before committing, so networking is not a quick-fix to finding new business. Time is needed to build trust and you need to show up regularly to ensure that you are recognised and remembered for what you do.
Every time you network, remind yourself of the following:
The last top tip of networking is to always exchange contact details before you part company. Don’t just give them yours, always ask for theirs so that you have the opportunity to follow up.
A good network is nothing more than an extended circle of friends. It’s a two-way street of helpful relationships. Good luck!
For our regular readers, you’ll not be a stranger to seeing our weekly blog spot, ‘Question of the week’. We started this approach as we really wanted to answer – in a more bite-sized format – the many questions that we get asked in conversations with clients.
We are not one to write blogs, for writing’s sake and constantly review how we do things. After all, talking about websites may not be considered topics that are pretty or sexy – but we can only try!
Hence us always wanting to make our content interesting and relevant for you.
So, with that in mind, we are appealing to our wonderful readers to get involved and start sending us in questions...Is there something you’ve always wondered about but never had the time, or nerve, to ask? Well, this is your opportunity! Feed your curiosity and let us know what you’re thinking.
You can get in touch via email, by completing the form on our contact page or by giving us a call on 01708 578 015. Once we’ve taken your question we’ll ask if you would like a personal reply or you can wait until it goes live on our blog and read it alongside the rest of the online world.
Below, is a list of the questions we’ve been asked (and answered) so far:
So what are you waiting for? We look forward to answering your questions.