Can a Business have a Personality?

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People have personalities, not businesses – right? When people go to work they paint on their work faces, put on their work hats and become the consummate professional.  There’s a manner in which bosses and colleagues expect their employees to sound, look and act when in the workplace.

Yes there’s a need to be professional, yes customers demand a deservedly high level of attention, care and service – but is there a need to be so dull, stuffy and corporate about it?

The Business of People

Businesses consist of physical assets, products and services but it’s ultimately people who are the nucleus of a business. Owners, Directors and Managers set strategies and employees execute those strategies to the paying public. Employees and customers have individual personalities, morals and values – and so can a business.

All too often businesses assume a pre-programmed drone tone when dealing with customers. We’ve all experienced this whilst dealing with call centres or on Social Media – that scripted and overly cheery or politician-like response, delivered in true Stepford wife style.

Whatever sector your business operates in, the products & services you produce will be almost identical to your competitors. Therefore one of the few ways to create a genuine differentiation strategy is to focus on customer service by promoting your company values & culture.

Business Culture

The culture of a business should seep out of every pore and be consistent across all areas of a business – it’s called Branding. If customers identify your products/services with your company, it isn’t the pinnacle of Branding – you need to adopt a vision and set of values which resonate with the lifestyle of your customer base.

Create a mission statement so your employees buy-in to your company vision, providing a common purpose for all. Company values help to create a way of thinking consistent across all departments where guidelines are created to achieve an expected manner in which all employees should behave. With the creation of company values there’s a necessity to embed those values onto the daily processes and practices of your company – including posting on Social Media.

Social Media

One of my fundamental golden rules of Social Media is to BE SOCIAL. Minimise the use of one-way communications pushing your company products and services. Be creative in your approach to Social Media by devising a Content Marketing strategy offering a range of topics and material for your audience to enjoy and engage with.

The content you post and the manner in which you engage with your audience can help to define the values and culture of your company.  Send posts about the weather, your local community and even post something funny. Now humour is subjective, but as long as it’s light-hearted and family friendly humour then you won’t offend your audience. The reality is that customers won’t just follow posts from your company about product updates and special offers, provide them with more reasons to read, engage and share your content.

If you’re relevant, friendly and approachable on Social Media by exuding your company culture, then your personality will shine through and become synonymous with your Brand. So can a business have a personality? – Only if you want it to 🙂

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4 Reasons Why Social Media is Perfect for Competitions

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Small businesses can choose to spend their small Marketing budgets in a number of areas – Print, Digital, Radio, Advertising, Directories, Outdoor and many more. It can be a confusing web of options. Which method reaps the highest return on my investment? – Discard all those options and organise a competition.

Social Media is a perfect platform for running competitions – your competition is the magic bean and Social Media is the beanstalk. With careful organising you can get the competition entrants to grow your company’s Marketing, boost brand visibility and increase sales – here’s 4 ways your Small Business can leverage the benefits running a successful competition.

1)      Free Marketing

Firstly ensure that the topic of the competition compliments your own strategy – If you’re a hairdresser, then offer a pair of GHD straighteners, if you’re an Accountant offer a year’s free advice and so on. And of course you’ll need to promote the competition to the relevant audience – just make sure your prize is appealing.

Once you’ve decided on the finalists, run a voting system then watch Social Media explode! It’s amazing to see finalists of a competition embark on their own campaigns to get votes from their followers, meaning your company can leverage ALL connections from ALL their Social Media networks. Every time a finalist posts on Social Media – your company is included in the links resulting in driving traffic to your website. Once they’re on your website, enquiries and sales are a cert.

2)      Build a Database

When collecting votes for the finalists of the competition – make the voters enter their email addresses so you can build a database of relevant prospects.  Once you have built the email list you then need to align this with collecting Social Media details to build a complete profile of prospects.

Run a special voting day on Facebook, whereby people can simply click LIKE to place their votes. Now you can match the names and email addresses collected earlier to the Social Media profiles. With access to more in depth information about individuals you can build a picture of your ideal customer profile resulting in improved segmentation and targeting.

3)      Build Authority

Running a competition with a reasonably high cash value (or cash) will help to build credibility in your field allowing you to become a trusted company in your field.  Linking back to my initial advice, ensure you align the competition with your own company strategy. For example if you’re an Accountant who specialises in small business, then run a competition for the “UK’s Best Small Business” or something similar.

By making your company synonymous with a specialist area, you can build authority and become trusted and credible in your area of expertise.

4)      Integrate

When you launch your competition a key element in your strategy needs to be integration. Although Social Media is the key channel, ensure you adopt a multi-channel strategy. Place ads in relevant newspapers, advertise digitally and raise awareness of your competition – you need to lead people toward Social Media by integration.

Therefore by integrating your competition marketing and integrating the way you collect information from entrants and voters you can build a fully comprehensive database of prospective clients. Only 1 company can win your competition, so everyone else is a potential sale.

Have you ever run a competition on Social Media? Any horror or success stories?

Building a Brand from Scratch

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Branding is an essential element in any Marketing strategy for any business in any industry. Your brand defines your company by encapsulating who you are, what you offer and what differentiates you from the competition.

Ask anyone to provide you with an example of a successful brand and you’ll hear the likes of Apple, Coca Cola and Microsoft. Branding isn’t monopolised by the big corporations as small businesses can also build a successful brand, here’s some guidance on how to build a brand from scratch.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

Be consistent with all your branding efforts or don’t bother building a brand at all. Think about a Franchise like McDonalds or Starbucks, in every store you get the same coffee, same decor, get asked the same questions and you get this consistently. Here are 10 of the most important elements to consider when building your company brand:

1) Keep your LOGO prominent and consistent
2) Use the same LANGUAGE, TONE and level of FORMALITY
3) Keep COLOURS consistent
4) Use the same IMAGES, GRAPHICS & PICTURES in all Branding efforts
5) Use the same LAYOUT, FORMAT & TEXT
6) Display the same WEBSITE, EMAIL ADDRESS & PHONE NUMBERS
7) Keep CUSTOMER SERVICE consistent by having FROMALISED PRE & POST SALES FEEDBACK
8) Ensure ALL CUSTOMERS receive the same level of focus and service, regardless of their size of wallet
9) At all times apply the MISSION, VISION & VALUES of your company
10) Fully INTEGRATE all Social Media Channels with your company website, and vice versa

Lifestyle

When I was 1st taught about Branding I couldn’t get my head around the fact that people buy into the lifestyle of a particular brand. I was a salesman and you sell a product or service – not a lifestyle! However if you understand the lifestyle of your target market then you can relate your brand to the lifestyles they lead.

If you want to understand the lifestyle of your customers then you need to collect, store and utilise data about them – building a database is critical otherwise you’re fumbling around in the dark.

Building a database with names and addresses will reveal nothing about the lifestyle of your customers, you need to understand:

• Opinions
• Trends
• Hobbies & Interests
• Occupations
• Family
• Culture

Build relationships with your customers and gather feedback at every opportunity, ask them what they do in their spare time – Now you understand their lifestyles you can relate your brand to the very people you serve.

Positioning

The positioning of your brand is all about how the consumer perceives your brand in relation to your competitors, the keyword here is PERCEPTION. The brand you create will result in people forming an opinion on your company – the quality of your product/service, the value of your brand and if you’re high, medium or low quality.

Get outside that little world of your company and think like your customer. What makes you similar/different from your competitors? What’s your USP? How is my brand viewed in the minds of my customers? – Just remember it’s the customer’s perception of your brand that’s important not yours.

As with all strategies you must formalise your goals and objectives, create a plan and implement it successfully – Always have a plan.

What do you think a brand means?

Small Business Blogging

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Why Blog?

If you can talk then you can blog, that’s all blogging is – talking with words. Some people may struggle a little with writing a blog, but anyone can do it if you have a passion for your business.

Writing a blog can help differentiate you and your business from your competitors. There are very few original ideas and businesses as competition has intensified in most industries.

The most important question to consider when blogging is “What value does my blog add?” Always start with the customer in mind by asking yourself:

• What questions do my customers ask?
• What problems can I solve?
• Will my blog benefit my customers?
• What does my customer want to read?

So why blog? – To build credibility and trust. Demonstrating your credibility can only be achieved by sharing your knowledge and skills. Once your customers view you as being credible in your industry, you can then nurture customer relationships to build trust.

Of course the end product of blogging is to sell, but you don’t necessarily have to do this directly – focus on communicating, engaging and building a mutually trusting relationship with people.

WordPress – Free Version

Ideal for new bloggers is the free version of WordPress which is easy to use and customise. HTML for non-technical people is confusing, but WordPress makes this easy for you by having simple buttons which do all the work for you. You can alter the font, size, layout and background; add URL links images and other media to your blog to make it more engaging and appealing.

Once you become more experienced and advanced with blogging, you can consider upgrading your WordPress account which is fairly inexpensive.

Branding

WordPress have a good range of themes for your format and layout which can be tailored to match your company Brand. Keep colour schemes, logos, images, text and language consistent with your website and other Marketing material to maintain a consistent Brand image.

Link all your Social Media accounts to your blog, and link your blog to all your Social Media accounts and website. This ensures Brand consistency, but also allows you to direct people back to your website increasing the likelihood of a sale.

SEO

SEO – Another scary word for us non-technically minded people, but again WordPress make this easy for you. Add the appropriate tags (keywords) and categories to your blog so people can easily find your material. Make sure you use keywords in your blog and the headline, if you don’t know what keywords to use just ask your customers. Ask them what they would type into a search engine to find a company like yours.

WordPress provides you with an option to enter meta data, this sounds technical but it’s actually really easy to implement. By entering the tools menu you can add meta data to optimise your SEO with Google and Microsoft (Bing). You must firstly have a Gmail and Hotmail email address. Follow the WordPress instructions and then copy and paste the required code from Google & Bing into your WordPress account so people can now find your blog when making internet searches.

Get Started

Anyone can blog and WordPress makes it easy to put together and distribute. If you run your own small business then you obviously have a passion for what you do – so get typing and let everyone know how good you are.

Stay tuned for the next blog from King’s Content – Marketing your Blog

For a free step by step guide on how to start a WordPress blog please leave a comment and I’ll send you the guide 🙂