Tag Archives: social media 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

Facebook as a marketing tool for your business.

By Nicola Peaty

If you think Facebook is just a social network for thousands of friends to exchange events in their lives, express opinions and share photos, then think again when it comes to your company and business. Facebook can be a powerful marketing tool and it’s free!

Facebook-business-page1Facebook is the perfect extension of your brand and business. It allows you to develop your identity in a more personable way. This can apply to most businesses, but it’s your judgement as to how much you wish ‘expand’ the personality of your company and whether this is appropriate for your market and customers.


Companies can use Facebook, as with all other social media, to communicate and convey important company information. However, the same rule applies, not to blatantly promote but to give useful content which customers will see as valuable or insightful. Product developments, company updates and market changes or news, which are all relevant and helpful to your customers, will be received well and position you as informative and authoritative.

funny-beggar-cartoonDon’t forget to mix it up though, if applicable. Humour can go a long way to building your image and giving some character to your brand.


Plus using images, links and videos will give a lot more interest and engagement with your Facebook audience. Specific promotions and even competitions should be integrated across all your marketing mix, but sit particularly well with Facebook as a means of attracting and driving customers to specific, dedicated pages.

Use keywords relevant to your market/products and hashtags for certain topics or content which can be searchable and therefore reach a wider audience. Also tag photos of relevant people either within your company or related contacts. This will then appear on their timeline and appear to their friends, which again will extend the reach of your audience. But tag with caution and etiquette so that no one feels unwanted exposure by your Facebook posting.

This is also the time to ‘relax’ the tone of your copy and use more colloquial language depending on the subject matter. If you are announcing news related to your personnel or team events, then think about how you would best communicate this with appropriate photos and language.

facebook-graph-search-marketingFairly new to Facebook is the Graph Search which allows you to leverage your friends to find their friends who many work for particular companies that you would like to make contact with. Just search under ‘Friends of friends who work for (name of company)’ and it will bring up a list of contacts. As with all references it’s up to you to make the connection via your friends as a way of introducing new potential work contacts.

Another useful marketing tool to segment your Facebook contacts is to group them into specific lists. This can be done by clicking ‘More’ next to ‘Friends’ on the left hand column. Lists can be set up according to your particular customer needs or by potential/current/advocate customers. It’s down to you to check these different lists to see what they maybe posting and then possibly comment if applicable. You are essentially looking for a way to engage and interact with customers and find insightful information to strengthen your relationships.

Remember Facebook can be a two-way communication, so encourage followers to comment and participate in conversation. Answer any questions, acknowledgement opinions and above all promote discussions so that other followers and indeed their ‘friends’ will notice what’s being said about your topics and company.

Facebook itself has a lot of useful information to help companies set up their Facebook page and get started with profiles and posting. Plus it also explains how to use advertising and how to monitor and measure activity.


Nicola Peaty

Top tips on how to use Twitter for your business.

By Nicola Peaty

twitter_social_media_marketingTwitter is an instant public messaging platform on a microblogging network. For marketers, it is another way to engage and interact with customers. It can be used for brand awareness, to involve your audience with your company and essentially for you to enter ‘conversation’ with your clientele. It takes time, care and attention and planning to serve as a productive marketing tool.

Here are our top tips on what to consider when using Twitter for your business:

Even when setting up your profile, you should consider how to present your brand and company details. This should be consistent with your other social media tools. Choosing whether to use your logo and/or a head shot can give your company a different persona. (Remember if using a logo to have it resized for the square box available on Twitter.) All account details should of course be accurate, but think of this as another marketing opportunity to give a unique profile of you and your business. As soon as you are all set up, make sure your account is integrated with your website, blog etc to ensure optimum use of shared content, traffic and followers.

Who to follow:
We would advise the following stakeholders as useful people to follow, in order to know the full picture of who is saying what about all relevant areas regarding your business:
* Associations
* Customers
* Suppliers/vendors/partners
* Competitors
* Industry experts
* Local companies
Twitter now has an advanced search which allows you to find local businesses with which to connect and network. The Twitter List also enables you to create separate groups of followers so that you can follow different types of conversations and threads.

Join the conversation:
It’s probably wise to follow and listen first, before you dive into creating new content. Spend some time getting a feel for what is being discussed in general and topically regarding pertinent information for your business. Use the hash tag search to find out about particular subjects and connected people. Also, use the search engine to find out if and what people may be commenting about your business. Build up an idea of how you can respond if applicable or add to existing conversations and even where there are gaps of information which you can address.

You are now ready to create a communications plan. This is a purposeful, thought-through idea of messages, topics and discussions which have the ultimate aim of attracting potential customers. Rather than ad-hoc, reactive tweets, your plan needs to have objectives which fit with your brand and your business goals and integrate with all other marketing activity. Think about the frequency, subject matter, using keywords and don’t forget to mix it up! That means tweeting a variety of product news, industry views, new promotions, fun stuff like competitions, using media such as photos and videos.

Adding the shortened URL links will enable you to drive traffic to the full content on your website/blog. Make sure you track the variation of tweets and identify which type of tweets get the best results. Optimise your tweets with the Twitter widget on your website and Tweet button on all content for followers to share.

Getting the right balance:
Like all other forms of social media marketing, you must strike a balance between promoting your business as well as providing your customers with useful content which they will value. By following and listening to what your customers and peers are tweeting, you’ll be able to participate by adding your comment and opinion, sharing your views and advice and even solutions if applicable. You will then catch the attention of the right people in the right way which will then bring you closer to your target audience.

You can still promote your company and products/services, just make sure you make the promotional tweets a bit more personal and conversational and less ‘marketing speak’. 140 characters is not a lot but can be used in so many different ways. The language, tone and style of your tweets should be true to your brand and give the required voice and personality.

Twitter has its own useful information on specific marketing tools.
Find out how to:
* Target with precision to connect with the right people
* Find out more about who’s on Twitter and how to reach them
* Understand your results with analytics
* Integrate your marketing efforts with Twitter buttons and embedded Tweets
* Scale your efforts to maximize your impact
* Get results with successful promotional tactics and strategies

We also found this link which gives you the basics on Twitter if you need to understand about the messaging network in a bit more detail.

How to grow your business with social media