Are you ready for the new season?

Business decision-makers are back from their holidays: is your marketing ready?

For many businesses the months of July and August are their quietest, in terms of new sales, even if it’s a busy period for delivering.  The reason generally given is that most decision-makers are on holiday and so not there to start looking, to meet sales people or to make the final decisions.

The question now is: are you, and your marketing, ready for the new business season?

The schools around me go back a week today so you’ve got a little time left, but not much.  There will be some decision-makers who will be about to go on holiday (if they haven’t got school-age children) as bookings are that much cheaper, but that only adds another couple of weeks before the Autumn business season is in full swing.

So:

  • Is your website up to date?
  • Are you consistently blogging?
  • Do you have plans in place for your social media activity?
  • Have you planned your special offers to draw in the interest?

Just in case you haven’t here is a little information for the future:

  • School dates for Surrey schools (other counties will vary slightly)
    • Autumn Term 2012
      • 4 September to 21 December 2012
      • Half Term from 29 October to 2 November 2012
    • Spring Term 2013
      • 7 January to 28 March 2013
      • Half Term from 18 February to 22 February 2013
    • Summer Term 2013
      • 15 April to 24 July 2013
      • Half Term from 27 May to 31 May 2013
  • My phone number: 07770 970 557

 

 

 

Taking my own medicine

As a marketing consultant my job is to help my clients improve their marketing and deliver better results from the resources they have available to them. I talk to people about:

  • Measuring the ROI delivered from their marketing
  • maintaining consistent activity levels on LinkedIn, Twitter and the other relevant social media channels
  • Generating evidence that shows how they help their customers
  • Deliver regular blog articles in order to develop, and keep, a following that contributes

It seems that I have a builder’s house, as I’m not following one of my own rules.

My weekly(?!?) blog has only been published every nine days and once went 71 days without being updated!

My blog simply isn’t consistent enough and for that I apologise.

What am I going to do about it?

  • Make a List of Content Topics
  • Create an Editorial Calendar
  • Post Regularly

If there is something you want me to blog about, drop me a line and let me know

I look forward to hearing from you

LinkedIn – a real problem solver

Ever been dealing with a company when things just don’t seem to be moving forward?

You find yourself constantly talking to call centres or customer services, but to no avail, as you are always talking to someone different and they don’t have a full understanding of your situation, so there is no big picture thinking. LinkedIn may be able to help.  Let me explain:

I’ve blogged recently about my house being burgled and how the loss of my technology seriously impacted my work for a week or so, and so you may already be aware of the fun and games I’ve had recently. There was an added complication that they stole my car keys and my car during the burglary and my car insurance company have been less than helpful.

I’m not going to name names but suffice to say things were going neither smoothly or quickly and I was rapidly approaching the end of my tether. Finally I thought it was about time to go around the call centre so I used the world’s biggest business social media tool: LinkedIn.

I found one of the UK’s senior directors and simply made them aware of what I had been experiencing. That was less than a week ago and now everything has been resolved.

It isn’t quite the case of “who you know”, but LinkedIn makes it the next best thing.

Networking – quality or quantity?

There are many approaches to networking  and plenty of articles written about it.  A google search whilst writing this blog identified 341,000,000 in 0.33 seconds – that should keep you busy for a little while.

Broadly speaking there are two camps when it comes to, particularly, online networking: collecting as many people as possible or, know the people you network with.  I fall firmly into the latter.

Right now I have 388 connections on LinkedIn.  Fifteen minutes ago I had 445.  Although I spend a good amount of time trying to maintain the relationships I have developed I looked through my connections and found that I had 57 in there where I couldn’t remember what they did or why I was connected to them.  If I cannot remember what they do, what is the chance that I am going to introduce them to other people I meet?

What does this mean to me?  I have roughly 15% more time to maintain the relationships I have built up on LinkedIn, further improving the quality of them

What does it mean to the 57? Absolutely nothing at a guess, as they don’t seem to be worried about maintaining the relationship either or they would have been in contact recently and I would know what they did.

What’s my point?  Simple, invest your time in developing your network and ensuring it is mutually beneficial.  If there is “dead wood” in your connections, a little light pruning is a good thing

Who Do You Go To?

As a small business owner there are times when I face issues that I need help with. I’m lucky in that I have a group of people around me, both family and friends, who I can talk to and get either advice or simply someone to “dump on”.

I started thinking about what other small business owners do when they have issues they need to resolve, so I thought why not ask them? Most of you will know I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, so I simply used the Answers function within LinkedIn.  The question I asked was:

Who do small business owners turn to in order to talk about their worries, concerns and issues?

The range of answers was really interesting, some were worrying, others were expected and a couple were entertaining – do you know anyone called Bud Wiser?

I’m a little worried by the suggestion that some business owners go to hookers (2%) and I’d rather (probably foolishly) hoped that I wouldn’t get the 10% of answers that were simply self-promoting.  One guy answered the question with a simple “That would be me!”. If you’re going to self-promote, at least add something useful.

As someone who’s been described, by at least one client, as his therapist (see previous blog) I was happy to see that business coaches (15%) was the biggest answer. I don’t market myself as a business coach – I’m a virtual marketing director for a number of clients – but I do get involved with general business issues as marketing has an impact across all areas.

If you’re like me and have family and friends to talk to, you’re not alone as another 20% of responses were spouse, friends or relatives, although one response suggested that this group was probably the worst place to go. I think he thinks that these people will tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to.

If you’re reading this as a small business owner I hope it puts your mind to rest – that you’re not alone whatever source of issue resolution you have.

Dealing with too much data

This isn’t a blog about turning data into meaningful information (perhaps another time) but is simply another recent episode in what’s been going on in my business life.

Having a lot of data is usually a good thing, as it means I’ve got a lot of very useful information, and have been helping my clients with their marketing needs. The only problem is then storing it, and particularly backing it up, in a way that makes sense, both for access and resilience.

This was recently highlighted through my recent burglary, where all my tech equipment was stolen.  Luckily I use Time Machine on my Apple laptop and so I lost very little data (2-3 days).  Time Machine backs up both your applications and your documents so there is no need for a separate backup of your applications.

As my data has expanded, it seems that I now need a bigger HDD in order to maintain an element of version control (being able to restore different versions of a document).  Whilst shopping to replace all the equipment stolen an online backup solution was recommended in one of the stores (I won’t say which one at this time) and I was told that it would back up both documents and applications. It was being offered at a good price and would mean I no longer had to remember to back up, so I thought why not.

Unfortunately when I got home and set it up, guess what the first thing it said during the setup?  It doesn’t support application backup!

The other issue is then getting nearly 300Gb into the cloud. As a small business owner I don’t have  a huge internet connection and there are limits on my service. This means that it would take approximately 19 days (at 100Kb/s) to upload the data and cost me a chunk of cash in excess data charges.

I’m going back to the store for a refund and I’ll let you know how I get on.  If they are less than helpful, I may then start naming names!

I’ve learnt a lesson and will be buying another HDD – I’ll just have to remember to back up every day!