I have been writing blogs about mental health for some time now, and the response and support I have from the most unexpected of places has been phenomenal – for which I could never be more thankful for. I enjoy writing, and I’d like to think that in some way Continue reading
I always seem to have opinions on things, and I seem to share them on whatever social media medium is to hand at the time (lets face it, its normally Twitter).
Its an idea i’ve toyed with for a while, and something that many people have approached me to do…so – here it is. Continue reading
“Beware, so long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance…” (Jean de La Fontaine)
I find myself in an awkward situation. One that many have before, and I’m sure many will in the future. Perhaps in hindsight, the previous “Dreaded ‘R’ Word” title should have been reserved for this one.
Perhaps my thoughts are resounding those of my Grandmother, of “don’t treat others how you wouldn’t expect to be treated yourself” or ”don’t talk about people behind their backs”, but I find the whole concept of ‘references’ …….well, rubbish.
I’ll explain my situation. I left my job in a long hours, minimal Continue reading
“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do..” (Potter Stuart)
It’s been a little while since I have wrote a post, and have been toying with the idea of this one for a little while. Perhaps it might rattle a few cages, perhaps something that shouldn’t be spoken about. However, purely for the fact that no-one does for no good reason, I am going to speak up and out and hopefully, someone somewhere will listen (or at least have a read!)
I have been looking for work for a little while now, and like everyone in the population, it is a damn hard market out there. With budget cuts and tight margins, companies have figured out how to do maximise workforces with Continue reading
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep” Scott Adams
As i’m all for change and starting something new, (as the post title suggests!) I’ll start this one with a bit of a pop quiz. Ready? Okay….Go!
“Cling Film, Penicillin, Play Dough, Microwaves and Cornflakes. What do these all seemingly random objects have in common?”
Do you all have your answers? Have you finished Googling? (Yes, I know some of you will and have! “Tut tut!” is all I have to say…!)
The Answer is of course, they were all discovered by accident. By mistake. Unintentionally. And they are only a few in a long line of inventions and discoveries that were fell upon and subsequently changed the world. Continue reading
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about…”
In our day to day lives, what people think and say about you is occupying most people’s thoughts most of the time. Whether it’s making a big decision to impact others in the workplace with hiring or firing, or whether the person looking at you on the tube has in fact, realised your shoes and bag don’t match perfectly, and is probably tweeting about it as we speak as a ‘fashion faux pas of the day’ (I jest, however I do know people who would do this!). What strikes me as interesting, is that if we all care about what is said about us when it comes to things that
With 80% of Commerce in the EU emerging from Germany, France and the UK, it is no surprise that many SMEs are looking to expand overseas to maximise their business opportunities. But where do you start? Here are some “Top Tips” for expansion and easing your way into the global community.
Tu Parlais Francᾳis?
Expanding to other regions/countries is not purely a matter of translating andwording your content in the local lingo, you will need to understand every aspect of how they communicate, how they search, what keywords they search with etc.
For France as an example, with a population of 448million, 40% (of 16-74 year olds) shop online (comparative to the 60% in the UK market) which is set to rise dramatically over the coming months. If you can’t maximise your SEO and PPC effectively you are going to miss out on 180 MILLION potential consumers. Do your research. Speak to an agency who can manage this aspect for you. Although this is a potentially simple operation (though somewhat time consuming for business owners) to conduct on their own, when venturing into unknown territory it is better to leave some things to the experts. One of my favourite quotes is “When venturing into the dark – its always best to find someone who has a torch!” – something which most definitely applies here.
Laws and Legislations
If you do not research the areas of law that apply to your areas of business, whether its manufacturing, marketing or marine engineering, you are setting yourself up for a fail before you even begin, putting your reputation and potentially your company as a whole (financially) in major jeopardy. France for example have the “Touban Law”, which requires all products distributed in the French market to only be produced with labelling and packaging published in the French Language. Seems an obvious hurdle you may think, but if your initial product is flourishing in the UK, this could majorly change your current budgeting and investment plans.
How does your brand Translate?
The language barrier is one that faces many of us on holidays and weekend getaways and can prove many a problem in the simplest situations (a personal favourite of mine is confidently asking for ‘gateaux’ -French for cake- in Spain, which is actually Spanish for ‘cat’ – fortunately the waiter understood and explained, and my desert arrived with ice-cream as opposed to whiskers and a tail).
Whilst comical in the ‘every day’ situation, it is a serious subject when discussing your business and hard earned money.
Check out translations for your brand through a reliable source (there are many free translation tools on line, but from many fluent speaking contacts I know these to be incredibly unreliable).
Even if you aren’t looking to expand for a few months, check out and, if you can afford, buy your target country domain names – .fr, .de etc. This ensures brand consistency
Again, speak to local Chambers of Commerce –even your local County Chamber will have contacts in their ‘partnered’ Commerce’s abroad. Even banks like HSBC are great for business advice on a global scale – their business advert speaks for itself; “The Worlds Local Bank”
Maximise Local Resources
Speak to the local Chambers of Commerce and local investment organisations. In Germany they are hot on utilising internships – a free tool to add to your belt – and in some regions can subsidise salaries up to 60% in the first year as a ‘thank you’ for bringing business and employment to the area. Investigate local government incentives. Granted, these may not be in central Paris or , downtown Dusseldorf, but the overall costs will be cheaper (rent, taxes, bills etc) and potentially be centred towards more residential area, making recruitment and expansion easier in the long run.
“To .xe or not to .xe, that is the Question”
A successful launch over the pond requires strong and efficient collaboration software tools and Project Management systems. There are free ones available that are easily accessible; “Google Docs” is always a winner in my books. Others to check out are ‘Team Box’ and ‘Base Camp’. The most effective tool will all depend on what product and service you are providing, and will involve (again) a bit of research. The key feature is that it needs to be user friendly, simple, and available on various platforms (some don’t perform as well on Macs – pre intel anyway – compared to Microsoft and Vice Versa.)
It’s also worth (if you haven’t already) looking into Skype. Its a free tool and a great (and most importantly free!) Tool to communicate via audio and/or webcam anywhere in the world. Depending on the size of your business you may wish to invest in soe more heavy duty video conferencing tools, but for an SME Skype is the perfect starting point providing both ends have a strong internet connection.
As a relative ‘newbie’ to the Marketing Industry, there seems to be one key factor that agencies from SMEs to Multinational Corporates seem to be missing out on, and that is the basic sales techniques. I recently attended a number of exhibitions, and to assess the market, as well as build up my own knowledge of the industry, I ‘mystery shopped’ a few Online Marketing Agencies. The people I spoke with were veterans of the industry, and evidently knew not only their products, but the assosciated technologies inside out. However, the one skill that was apparent were the basic sales and customer interaction ability. Continue reading
With countless makeover, reinvention and reality TV shows in the media these days – the market and general public are all centred around one thing – IMAGE. Whether its designer clothes or physical ailments, the British Public can’t seem to get enough.
However despite our growing interest in the Every Man, when it comes to our businesses, Owners seem to be letting their companies branding slip into a tracksuit wearing has-been waiting for Gok Wan to work his magic.
So here are some top tips for branding and creating an identity for your company – to turn it from a wannabe to a ‘WAG’ :
1. Make sure what your website does what it says on the tin!
The first common mistake made by companies is not fulfilling their site potential. I see so many sites across the web that have extended tag lines, irrelevant content pages, and URLs that are virtually un-trackable by Google. Simplify your URLS; ‘www.mywebsite.com/products’ ‘www.mywebsite.com/blog’ . Its a simple change to make, but it will increase your hit rate and branding on Google, which is where appearances matter. If the ‘Spyders’ find you relevant, customers will too, which will in turn, generate more business!
2. Its all about the linking…..
Google is a numbers game (although its a quality numbers game too, 10 valued links from relevant sources are better than 100 low value ones) . If you as a business have 10 webpages to your site, and your competitor has content spread over 100 (bear in mind quality is key – so 100 links need to be valued ones. 10 good quality links are better than 100 low value irrelevant ones.)
it doesn’t take a genius to see who is going to be boosted to number one slot in search engines. Blog and post content to social bookmarking sites (such as digg and reddit), and show that you mean business, and are the expert. Include links back to your site (and ensure that the keywords are contained in the links), for readers (and Google) to track/click back to your site.
(try to differentiate between what readers look for and the benefit of getting your links crawled and indexed for linking).
Content must be relevant though, and deemed interesting, otherwise (digitally speaking) you are shooting yourself in the foot and will backfire tremendously.
3. Make the most of your free Social Mediums!
From speaking with many SMEs, there are not enough that maximise their free channels of social interaction to promote their brand.
A contact I helped was the business owner of a small Environmentally friendly green baby product company. She had a steady flow of income via her products but wanted to expand into her target market. One key area she had overlooked was Facebook.
The first few months after having a baby is a stressful time, and mum’s don’t get to go out without the precision of a small military operative and ten tonnes of baggage in tow, carefully planned around naps and feeding times. All mums i know are on Facebook, proudly showing off their new offspring to friends and family alike. And new Mums like to gossip. One bad experience in a fast food chain or supermarket the community hear about it. Likewise for great baby products. If you can tap into their medium you gain free and extensively publicity, making your identity known across your targeted market. A few months into taking the advice and investing a small amount of time every day and her business had grown tenfold.
The moral of the story is understand your customer and where you will find them online, whether its networking on Linked In or posting vouchers and discount codes on Twitter, and your profile will increase. In today’s society, its a tough market for any SME. Competition is ripe, and it is important to keep your users/fans/followers up to date with any new products, launches orevents that may be of interest to them.
4. Tweet Tweet… Twiddly-deep…
The Jackson Five coined the catchphrase, now it is taking the internet community and businesses by storm. There is a fine line between marketing and what people consider ‘spamming’ so be careful with your content. To gain ‘followers’ you must be deemed interesting. From speaking to my fellow tweeters (or tweople if you will) a certain celebrity ‘effing’ chef constantly updated with news of books and tv series, which became boring and mundane. Alan Sugar on the other hand, interacts with followers, updates on what he had for breakfast, and throws in the odd business and marketing tweet here and there, which holds more weight than a constant barrage of self publicity. People buy from People. Ensure your company site has an personable identity (Topshop do this fantastically) and the rest will follow. Twitter is a fantastic tool, and can be accessed via a number of platforms and easily on your mobile. Its picked up readily by Google and easy to monitor with plenty of free tools on the market. If you’re strapped for cash and time (as many people find themselves today) Twitter is the way to go. Do your research on Software Tools and apps available, half the battle is usability, what works for someone else may not work for you. I personally am a fan of ‘Tweetdeck’ on an Adroid OS, however I know many that find this time consuming on i-phones and i-pads.
5. Jack of all trades, master of none….
To look at it simply, if you go into a restaurant with 20 specials on the board, none particularly seem overly ‘special’ , whereas if they only have 2, then suddenly they have more appeal. The same principle applies in business (especially for SMEs). Find what you’re good at and stick with it, don’t try and put your fingers in too many pies. Not only will it lower the quality of service, but from a marketing and advertising perspective, it will cost you a small fortune. When it comes to PPC Management Services and managing your SEO agency UK budgets, ranking highly in generic terms will cost you more (and bring your more traffic) than longer more specific ones (known as long tail search terms/phrases). Think like the customer, look at geography, target areas, what they will be looking for, this will save a lot of time and money in the long run, and create more traffic and in turn, money! Look objectively at what you want to be known for – and roll with it!