Tag Archives: content marketing

Nicola Peaty

How to market small businesses on a budget.

By Nicola Peaty

budget recession, deficitGone are the days of expensive advertising and glossy brochures for most marketing budgets. The positive spin is that we have been forced to think cleverly about how to target customers which can then produce more effective results and without incurring large invoices. Quite often it is the time, thought and effort that is more important than the amount of money spent.

Below are our suggestions for low cost marketing ideas which can be selected according to your specific needs or as a collective campaign.

1. Content. What else? We’ve discussed and explained the benefits of content in our other blogs. Quite simply, it can be free if you or a colleague can write content and it can give customers so much added value and position you as the expert in your field. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/how-to-write-content-for-your-audience/

2. Social media. No surprise. Again if you’re in charge then it’s your time and no cost. Try to co-ordinate across the various platforms and encourage your biggest ‘fans’ to share and interact. See our related blogs on the various social media platforms; http://www.vgandassociates.com/facebook-as-a-marketing-tool-for-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/the-dos-and-donts-when-using-linkedin-to-market-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-to-use-twitter-for-your-business/    http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-pinterest-can-work-for-your-business/

3. Website. To be honest, any business these days can’t really exist without a website. It’s the first place people go to check out your ‘existence’ and credibility. All social media should link back to the website and your content updated to give Google fresh ammunition to drive traffic to your site. But it does not have to cost the earth. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. Make sure your proposition is understood and obvious. Good clear branding is essential so that customers know and remember you. Include clear calls to action and a response mechanism. Then you’re good to go. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/creating-an-effective-website/

4. Video. You don’t have to be Stephen Spielberg (or have his budget) to produce something which conveys your message in a simple but effective video. People are visual and love watching and listening more than reading copious amounts of words, so keep it short, to the point and interesting. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/using-video-for-marketing/

5. Infographics. Depending on your design capability as to whether you pay for these or not, infographics are so useful when communicating key points and messages to your audience. Whether it’s a specific explanation about something technical or an overview of a product, they help convey visually so customers understand quickly what you are aiming to put across. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/infographics-explained-with-a-little-help-from-some-infographics/

6. Database. Make sure that you have all your contact data in order so that it’s in the most effective state for your target marketing. If you have missing data, then fill in the gaps. Analyse the data so that you know exactly who are your most lucrative customers and who are your hottest leads. With your database ready to go, then you are in a much better position to ‘hit’ the right people with the right message.

7. Loyalty. If you find out from your database that you have a selection of loyal customers, then consider reward schemes and loyalty cards. Also, tap into these loyal customers to refer friends and give testimonials. You can even use them as successful case studies to demonstrate how your company works and get good results.

8. Networking. Mingle with the right people at the right events and it could be worth your while. Know who you want to meet and what you want to say before you go along or it could be a total waste of time. Be prepared with business cards and make sure you collect cards from useful contacts and then follow them up post event. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-for-successful-networking/

9. Host your own event. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate as long as the purpose and/or content pulls people in. Seminars with good content and no oversell will position you well. Customers are more likely to come for the content and as a result follow up with enquiries.

10. Email marketing. As long as your database is complete and up-to-date, then email marketing can be low cost and effective. Targeting the right customers or leads with the relevant message will produce the best results. Email can be used for promotions, feedback, competitions and even surveys. Design and delivery is dependent on your in-house capability and resource but in no way has to be expensive if you need to outsource. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/common-email-marketing-mistakes/

11. PR. Write a press release about your business or product/service, giving it as much unique individuality and then circulate to all local media. You never know you could strike lucky and one of the local press or websites will choose it as it relates to other content or they are in need of some local business information and news. Or, offer to write for a trade magazine or website that relates to your business giving your expert view, opinion or market update. This will certainly give you credibility and exposure. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-writing-a-press-release/

12. Related partnerships. Working with complimentary and non-competitive companies can have a mutual benefit. It gives you exposure to other customers and allows cross-promotion. By each company referring the other, you can only stand as a win win.

13. Business cards. We may no longer need glossy brochures and can afford elaborate literature, but the basic business card is one essential that any company still needs. They are functional and can be distributed throughout your company to give out to useful contacts in the field. Make sure they are fit for purpose, include all important details including website/contact numbers and have clear branding with strapline if applicable. Don’t overcrowd the card. If you have more information to include, then you may require a postcard or flyer to supplement the card.

14. Go local. Maximise what is on your doorstep. Use your local community and contacts. Do you have local social media and press you can use to promote your company? Are there local events, trade fairs, community gatherings and business groups you can tap into and take a stand or just network? Consider where your target customers may go in and around the area and hand out flyers in these places for them to find and pick up such as shopping centres, the library, leisure centres etc.

15. Try before you buy. Some people just need a little trial or taster before they commit to a purchase. An easy idea is to offer a small freebie or discount coupon. Everyone likes a bargain and if it persuades the customer and as a result they like your product, then you may have a new sale.

Nicola Peaty

How to generate leads for your business.

By Nicola Peaty

lead genGenerating leads for your business is the fundamental criteria for success or failure. However, it is all about quality leads not just quantity. There is much more sophistication in the art of the various lead processes in terms of generation, nurturing, demand, qualification and conversion. Marketers have to combine strategic planning with tactical execution and focus on progressing new prospects to delivering sales-ready leads. So before marketers get stuck into the array of lead generation possibilities, you must have the following in place: 1. agreed company objectives including target markets and measures; 2. the appropriate systems eg prospect database, CRM, marketing automation; 3. cohesive teams with the same aims and understanding especially sales and marketing; 4. plans to progress leads down the marketing funnel and towards sales conversion; Next it’s down to the marketing team to plan the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ in terms of targeting, promotions, messages and execution. Below is our top list of recommended ways to source new leads. These are by no means exhaustive and each must be considered as to their relevance and value in accordance with the set objectives and type of market. referralsReferrals: Even a young company will have some kind of customer or associate relations which they can utilise to leverage potential new leads. Tap into existing contacts who you can trust and who will positively promote your business in order to open a few new doors. Linked In is a great B2B network for quality professionals who can help you ‘connect’ with potential new customers. For more established companies, hopefully with some solid customer relations, ask them to give their testimonials and refer possible contacts who they believe could benefit from your services. Peer reviews go a long way to adding credibility and reassurance for prospective customers. Choose your advocate clients who you know can champion your company and products and would be willing to make the effort to refer you to others. Reward schemes can help incentivise customers to ‘refer a friend’, but monitor and assess the quality of the lead referred to ensure they are relevant and not just a way of accessing the reward on offer! Alliance partnerships: Similar to referrals in a way, by joining up with business partners who compliment and don’t compete, you can generate leads both ways to help each other. It does depend on mutual trust and willing, but it makes sense that both parties can benefit if the customer is relevant to both companies. For example, in the wedding industry, bridal wear shops can refer to florists and cake makers without competing, in the agreement, that they will refer them as well. Events: These are the opportunities to bring your company to life and give a face to the brand. Not everyone enjoys events, so it’s important to select the right person to represent the company in the best way and to achieve the desired result. Networking groups help both new and established companies, whether you are just starting to promote yourself or targeting specific types of contacts. (See our blog on Top Tips for Successful Networking). Not everyone enjoys Tradeshows can be hit or miss and it’s all about the preparation and execution. Ensure the right type of prospects will be attending so that it’s not a complete waste of time and effort. Exhibition stands are only successful if they have skilled people manning the stand who know how to attract visitors among all the other stands fighting for their attention. Once a visitor has engaged, it’s all about having the right message and promotion. speechA great way to convey your brand as a voice of authority and as an industry expert is to give a specialist talk either at a trade seminar or by creating your own session. Choosing a topic that will advise or give insightful detail and opinion will hopefully generate new interest and therefore potential new customers. Whatever your approach to events, make sure you have contact capture forms ready and follow up post event with email, call or meetings as agreed. Search traffic: How often do we all go straight to Google when first looking for a product or service? Whether it is searching locally for a company or fact finding for specific details, the search engine is the major source of potential online prospects at the very beginning of the ‘lead funnel’ for marketers. You have a choice of SEO, SEM and PPC, but in order for you to attract quality traffic, it is essential to use specific keywords and terms that will match what your prospects are using when searching for your type of product. Avoid generic terms that will only cost you more, compete with the big players and not necessarily deliver qualified leads. Include details that will help produce the best result and match for the prospect in search, for example product specifications and location of company. Ensure you have the matching content ready and in place on your website including tailored landing pages. Visitors want to be able to click on a link that takes them directly to the information they are searching for (and not the homepage), otherwise you will lose them very quickly. Content: Great content can be used in many ways to attract new leads. By writing and/or speaking about topics which leads are interested in and searching for, you can become the source for fact, opinion, advice and the latest developments for your market. As long as the content is relevant, of value and targeting the specific type of leads, your content marketing plan can be very powerful as a lead generator. (See our blog on How to write content for your audience.) Social Media: Integrating your social media messages and promotions with great content can help drive traffic to your site and generate new leads. Getting likes, shares and +1s will build your audience organically. Remember to be creative and use visuals and videos as well to stand out, attract attention and even go viral. (see our blogs on Google +,  Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and video.) Use social media as a way to monitor discussions and get involved with your expert input, so that you can build your profile and raise awareness. You can then attract new followers and start customer interaction to nurture new leads. This takes time and effort so use a dedicated resource to keep track of any leads generated and how to progress them further down the ‘marketing funnel’. Contact details: This includes both yours and your leads. First make sure that you have company contact details at all lead touch points, so that they are able to get in touch should they have any initial fact finding questions or enquiries. Include as many ways for the prospect to make contact eg email, tel, online form, and ensure you respond in time with at least an acknowledgment or with the full details to their query. Make sure you also have data capture points for all new leads, whether that be online, face to face at an event or with a telephone enquiry. Start with the minimal basics and grow the details as you have more interaction. Offer incentives for leads to give more details eg to download information or for certain promotions. The idea is to build profiles and intelligence about your leads in order for targeted marketing. Automated email marketing is a good way to filter leads and build intelligence by a sequence of emails which contain specific information. Different emails are triggered according to how leads respond to each email and thereby tailoring content to their needs. It is essential to keep all captured contact data up-to-date so that you are able to manage your marketing effectively and segment the leads according to their specific needs and requirements. Once you’ve done the hard work in generating a new lead, you can then progress the lead according to your nurture and conversion plans.

lead gen funnel How to grow your business with social media

Nicola Peaty

Top 10 Tips for YouTube

By Nicola Peaty

For anyone questioning whether or not their business should be using YouTube, I thought I’d let this great infographic do the talking!





Video is huge and has so many benefits than posting a thousand words. Please see my blog on the reasons to use video to help market your business. http://www.vgandassociates.com/using-video-for-marketing/

This blog is about how to specifically use YouTube with our top ten tips covering some main points to consider when uploading your range of creative and quality videos for your business.

1. YouTube allows you to control the title and description of your video which means you can use specific keywords for SEO purposes. Choose words which people will be searching on and related to your video such as topics, products or even company name. As the second largest search engine, YouTube should be treated in the same way as if optimising content for Google, except this is video content.
2. YouTube still has the same social networking aspects as other social media platforms. Use this to its full use to interact and engage with customers and build online communities.
3. You can either share your videos publicly or for a targeted audience on YouTube, so this is an opportunity to segment and select specific customers for specific videos to ensure total relevant content marketing.
4. YouTube allows you to embed your videos with your website or any social media including blogs. This means you can fully integrate your multimedia marketing as long as your message and brand remains constant and you fully track all platforms to measure impact.
5. You can turn the commenting system on or off with each video. If you are able to monitor all feedback posts and how viewers rate and share your videos, then this is a great way to interact with potential customers. It opens the communication channel for both parties to exchange thoughts, opinions and advice. If however, you do not have the capacity to invest time and effort into this, make sure you turn the commenting facility to off, otherwise your viewers may get annoyed that they have not received a response to their feedback.
6. YouTube channel allows you to bring together all your videos. You can customise with your branding and complete the ‘About’ section with your business profile and even create your own URL for the video channel. See a couple of well branded channels below.
7. YouTube advertising gives you the opportunity to target and promote your videos to a specific profile audience with selected demographics. It is on a pay-per-view basis, so you pay a certain amount every time someone views your video. This must be planned and monitored well to be fully effective and test whether it’s worth the expenditure according to the results and quality of customers responding.
8. YouTube Analytics are useful in tracking views, uploads, referrals, comments and demographics of viewers. As with all marketing, where possible it’s advisable to measure, and so anything else you can do such as Call to actions will give you that insight into the success of your video marketing. Using promotional codes and giving links to go to your website or a purpose built landing page, gives you that added chance to monitor whether your video message has had impact.
9. Place YouTube buttons on all your social media and website in prominent positions to drive traffic to your YouTube channel. As long as you keep the channel up-to-date with quality content and monitor analytics to and from the channel, this could be an effective lead generation source.
10. Use YouTube to search already existing videos on topics related to your business especially from competitors. Depending on their content and quality, you can decide whether to produce something different, better or with a unique angle.


youtube channel sky

How to grow your business with social media


Nicola Peaty

How to use Google+ to help market your business.

By Nicola Peaty

google+Google+ is another fast growing social media platform which marketers are using to help target and generate leads for their business. With impressive statistics on the increase, it’s no surprise why Google+ is becoming another important part of the marketing mix:

* Over 300 million active users
* 50% of users visit daily
* 42% use Google+ to interact with brands’ content
* 70% of top 100 brands are using Google+

SEO: As this platform is actually owned by Google, there are obvious benefits when using Google+ to enhance your Google listing. By posting content with relevant keywords, Google indexes the data which helps optimise your content and in turn increases your ranking. This is something which limited on both Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, use Google+ as another stream of optimised content as part of your overall SEO strategy.

Circles: Another key feature which Google+ boasts are the ‘circles’ which enable you to circles-bigsegment and organise your ‘content consumers’ by similar demographics. This plays so well for marketing opportunities and allows a business to target in different ways such as by prospects and evangelists or by geographics and interests. Circles should be built on the knowledge of what the users’ interests are, what content they are sharing and the relationship with your brand and business. Google will respond well to great interaction between your streamed content and the actions of your users with that content.

Content: You can share content by posting on your profile, emailing to your circles or via your Google+ communities. It is down to each individual business to ensure that quality, relevant information is streamed to targeted communities. This means not only creating your own content but also recommending other ‘quality’ content. This is also a good time to remember the 20%/80% rule of promotional/useful information, otherwise you’re likely to lose your users. With so many multimedia options available, there’s no excuse to compete creatively with your content and delivery by using YouTube, Hangouts, infographics, striking images, events, webinars, the list is endless. Your ‘+1ing’ should start to increase as users receive, like and share your content.

Interaction: The aim is to grab users’ attention, get them to open up to allow your content to stream to them and then start building engagement through two way communication. Join specific conversations by joining communities and using the Explore tab, which enable you to comment on key topics which relate to your business. Maintain regular interaction to help keep the engagement and build closer contacts. If and when creating your own content, don’t forget to use links which drive traffic back to your site, not just on the platform. Google+ has a great post click engagement and refers a high quality traffic with over 2 pages per visit.

Brand: As with all communication in the marketing mix, your brand personality should maintain the same values, tone and image throughout. Make sure your profile, sharing of information and content creation/delivery all have the same brand continuity so that users build a clear understanding of your business and position in the market. Have al ook around at different brand pages to get inspiration. Below are a couple of good examples:







toyota google-plus-page

Nicola Peaty

How to write content for your audience.

By Nicola Peaty

In the last few years, there has been so much content pushed out to customers, which as a contentmarketingresult, has created too much ‘noise’. You need to be able to cut through the noise and grab the attention of your customers with content that is of real value.

In order to do this successfully, you need to find out exactly what your audience wants to know. The only way to get this right, is to really know your customers. You can achieve this by building a customer profile/persona. A profile/persona will give you an understanding of their attributes, lifestyle, demographics, likes, dislikes, as well as the insight into any previous behaviour or interaction with your company/products. This will really help you truly understand their needs and how you can help them with useful content.

If you need any more help to find out their content needs, then just ask. A simple survey via email or telephone or even face to face can find out their issues, so you that can deliver the required information solutions or tips.

This will also ensure you don’t deliver any wasted content which is not applicable for your target market. For example, if you’re in the health food industry, there’s no point writing about muscle weight gain products, if your audience is mostly women looking to lose weight.

Also, by using the profile and really understanding your customers, will give you the insight into how you deliver your content. The correct use of language and tone is really important. You don’t want to patronise your customers with basic facts they may already know, at the same time, you shouldn’t baffle them with science. For example, a solicitors firm should not use too much legislative terminology for the average person who may not understand.

You must also use compelling language which engages your audience and make them want to find out more and in turn contact you. Just giving away free content isn’t going to increase leads, it needs to be persuasive. After all the amazing advice you have imparted, you must also convince your customer that a. they need your particular product(s) or service and b. that you are the preferred choice above competitors. If in doubt, this is where a good copy writer is worth their money. Someone who can understand your business, plus use the right words to convince your customers.

Like all good marketing, it is highly important to monitor and track your content. How is it being consumed, shared, viewed etc? Which topics and type of content are the most popular? Are top tips in a particular area viewed more than a deep insight into technical detailed content? Which subject matter helps to build your community, which you can then develop and interact with so as to make closer connections and continue to deliver more relevant and useful content?

And after all that targeting, delivering and sharing of content to customers, are you ultimately generating new leads and converting to new business? If done correctly, then hopefully as a result, you will have more sign ups, customer feedback/comments or enquiries which can be passed on to sales as potential customers.

See also our Top Tips on How to write content for a top Google listing go to:http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-how-to-write-content-for-a-top-google-listing/

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