How Well Are You Really Selling Yourself? A Guide for Small Businesses

It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do. If you’re not selling yourself and constantly striving to acquire new customers, your business will suffer sooner or later.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re not a salesperson. You’re an expert tree surgeon/dentist/writer/all of the above, so you don’t need to worry the other stuff.

While this may the case for larger companies with dedicated sales and marketing departments, in a small business, you sometimes have to be a jack-of-all-trades to get the job done. In other words, you need to be everything all the time; accountant, marketer, salesperson.

So how can you start thinking like a salesperson and effectively promote your business? Here are our top five tips for small businesses.

Tell Your Story

Nobody knows your business better than you do. As a business owner, you were there when the first idea surfaced, when you made your first sale when you took on your first employee. Why not use these things to your advantage, and leverage them to tell the story of your company?

As we’ve said time and time again, people respond to people, not a sales pitch. Find your niche, whether it’s the fact that you’re family-run or that you work internationally, and celebrate it. The foundation of modern digital marketing is based on telling stories to engage people whilst also providing good content for search engines. Pinpointing what makes you different and telling this story not only on your website but in your emails, brochures and in the day to day running of your business, will help people get to know you and – more importantly – remember you.

Perfect Your Pitch

Part of telling your story is knowing exactly what you offer to customers, and why they should choose you in a crowded marketplace. This is something entirely different from knowing who you are as a business.

To truly understand your offering, you need to understand your audience, too, and identify how you can make their lives easier, or better. Once you nail this, you’ve got your sales pitch.

You’ll have heard the old school term “elevator pitch” before, and it’s still relevant in today’s sales and marketing landscape. If you had to sell your business or product in just 30 seconds – or in the duration of a lift journey – what would you say? If you can’t sum it up in a quick and concise way, go back and refine your brand story. This elevator pitch should inform your advertising, and be the first thing you communicate to new or prospective customers.

Embrace the Internet

You don’t need to be online. You’ve been managing for years without it. It doesn’t matter that all of your competitors are reaping the benefits of being online. You’ll be just fine, just as you always have.


Wrong. Those who turn their backs on digital marketing are missing massive sales and promotion opportunities. Start with a good quality website (3 out of 5 consumers now search for local businesses using their smartphones, so consider making it responsive).

If you’ve already got a website, why not take your digital identity one step further with social media? If you’ve already got Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, nice work. But the work isn’t over yet. There’s many things still to think about: copywriting, split testing, outreach tactics, SEO… digital is a dynamic field that offers more opportunities every day. Keeping up will help to ensure your business stays relevant and at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

Find Social Proof

If you have a relatively small amount of clients, you may find that you spend a lot of time keeping them happy. There’s nothing wrong with this way of doing business.

However, every successful business should balance customer retention with acquisition. If your business is currently powered mostly by word of mouth recommendations, use this to your advantage. These customers will likely have had you recommended to them by someone they know and trust, and so will already view you as a valuable proposition.

Make these glowing recommendations work harder for you. Include customer testimonials, case studies, reviews and comments wherever you can. Not only will this build the trust in and authenticity of your brand, it will mean your customers can start recommending you to people they don’t know, as well as those they do.

Share Everything You Know

We know what you’re thinking – why would you want to give away all of your precious knowledge and everything you’ve learnt over many years in your industry? Bear with us.

Sharing valuable information and tips demonstrates expertise and competency, positioning you as a voice of authority. More importantly, it shows transparency and confidence in your offering.

Clever Marketing LogoNot got the time to implement any of these strategies?

Then find time to call Clever Marketing and let us know what you need us to do. We will take your story and use it to promote your business.

All you need to do is pick up the phone and call 01276 534 680 right now and tell us your story.

Alternatively, tell us what you need via our simple contact form.

Clever Marketing, digital agency in Hampshire.

How to Use Instagram for Business

How social is your business? You might be on Facebook and Twitter, but the opportunity many companies are missing out on is Instagram. Owned by Facebook, the social photo sharing network now has over 200 million active users, making it one of the 10 most popular smartphone apps. Visual content is set to drive social engagement in a big way next year, positioning Instagram as one of the most powerful platforms for businesses to be part of.

Only if they use it correctly, however.

Yes, Instagram is popular, but that doesn’t make it appropriate for every business out there. In addition, its focus on short video and imagery means it’s essential to have resources and a solid plan in place before you embark on establishing your presence in this arena. Don’t know where to start? Read on for our comprehensive beginner’s guide on how to use Instagram for business.

How Do Customers Use Instagram?

The first step in identifying how you can successfully use Instagram is to analyse how your customers are using it.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram focuses solely on image sharing. People use it to snap photos of their everyday life to share with friends. So far so ordinary, but how Instagram really attracts users is through the provision of filters. For every picture a dozen editing filters are offered, changing your photo from dull and boring to bright or retro in a click (and thus improving the selfies of millions). Users of Instagram aren’t scrolling their feeds looking for information, products or news; they want to admire beautiful, aspirational imagery that represents an idyllic lifestyle.

Is Instagram Right for Me?

As we mentioned before, not every brand will work effectively on Instagram. Do you offer plumbing services, or divorce law consultancy? These businesses are unlikely to lend themselves very well to an image-sharing platform, and efforts might be better placed on information gathering sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or instructional ones such as YouTube. However, if you sell jewellery, are a makeup artist or own a restaurant, Instagram is the perfect place to craft a visual identity and showcase your products.

It’s also worth noting that, according to Search Engine Journal, over 90% of Instagram users are under 35. Consider your target demographic carefully before investing your time and budget.

How Do I Get Started?

Instagram is free to download for desktop, tablet and mobile, so you can get started right away. But before you start snapping and uploading, think about how your brand might translate on a purely visual platform.

How you decide to use Instagram must also fit in with your wider social strategy. Different platforms can – and should – be used for varying purposes to get the most out of your efforts. Above all, Instagram is an authentic lifestyle app. People want to see photos that yes, are beautiful, but that also look genuine and accessible. Instagram is not the place for marketing stock shots. For this reason, you may wish to focus not just on your products and services but the personality of your brand and bring this to life through Instagram. For example, if you’re a sportswear manufacturer it’s a good idea not to just show photos of your kit; but to also include shots of it in action on real athletes, and incorporate this into a wider spectrum of healthy eating and lifestyle images in order to build your personality.

Our Top 5 Tips For Succeeding On Instagram:

Connect With Your Other Social Channels

When you first set it up, link your Instagram account with your Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus accounts. This way, you’ll be able to share content simultaneously across your channels when you publish it. Your followers on other platforms will also be able to see you’re on Instagram too, and are more likely to seek you out and follow you.

Make Use of Hashtags

Much like on Twitter, hashtags represent a powerful tool to get your content found by users. Use at least one hashtag per post to boost your chances of being found by, and attracting new followers.

A few words of warning; don’t over use hashtags in one post. A one word comment followed by ten hashtags just looks desperate and disingenuous. Also, be careful to only use hashtags that are relevant to your post or brand; you want to attract new followers, but only the right ones.

Engage With Your Community

Instagram by nature lends itself well to user generated content. As you begin to grow your community, keep them interested by inviting them to share their own photos, tagging you or using your hashtag. An exemplary brand using this tactic is Starbucks; who regularly invite customers to share their snaps showing them enjoying a festive drink. When you respond and “regram” a user’s post you give them exposure, too, providing the incentive for them to share.

Vary Your Content

As we mentioned before, Instagram users are looking for inspiration, not a sales pitch. Keep your content output fresh by mixing product shots with natural lifestyle images to get users interested in you as a brand.

Keep Track of Your Efforts

As with any other platform, it’s important to measure your success in order to get the most out of Instagram. Analytics tools such as Blitzmetrics will help you to track your performance, allowing you to decipher between the posts which worked well and those that didn’t. Keep paying attention, engaging and creating on Instagram, and you might soon find that you have a powerful new platform on your hands.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencySo there are our tips on how to use Instagram. If you need further assistance, do call 01276 534 680 or use our easy contact form to get in touch.

As part of your digital marketing mix you’ll want to make sure that you’re maximising your use of SEO and driving qualified traffic to your site with successful PPC campaigns. If you’re stuck, Surrey digital agency Clever Marketing do all that too!


How to Set – And Stick To – Your Print Marketing Budget

No matter what your business does, or what type of marketing you’re investing in, setting a realistic and affordable budget that also promises significant ROI can be a be a bit of a bugbear.

First of all, large marketing budgets can be a difficult pill to swallow for key stakeholders who may not be familiar with marketing, and therefore struggle with the initial outlay of cash and the delayed profit. However, it’s important to remember that every penny you spend on marketing is a seed planted for future revenue, especially when it comes to print marketing and advertising – which traditionally has a slower burn than digital in terms of converting to sales.

In this blog post, we’ll be talking you through some fail-safe methods to help you work out what your print marketing budget should be, plus some handy tips to help make sure you stick to it.

Setting the Right Print Marketing Budget

The amount you set aside for your marketing will affect everything about the process, end product and ROI. From the paper quality of your direct mail piece to the size of your ad in the local newspaper, it’s crucial to make sure your budget aligns with your goals and expectations. So how can you make sure you’re setting aside the right amount? A general rule of thumb is that 10-20% of the projected revenues of your company should be dedicated to marketing – but this won’t work for everyone. Here are some quick tips to help you set the right budget for your business:

Check Out Your Competition

Here at Clever Marketing, we stress time and time again the importance of keeping one eye on your competitors. While it’s equally essential to focus on your own activity and growing your business, checking out what your direct competitors are doing once in a while will help you get some perspective, garner fresh ideas and renew your drive. Plus, if they are roughly the same size and have a similar turnover to your business, there’s no harm in using their marketing budget as a rough guide for your own.

You can find out a good idea of your competition’s budget by keeping a note of all of their print activity, from newspaper ads to flyers. Sign up for their mailings (you should be doing this anyway), and ask your agencies for a quote to have the same things made. You’ll soon get a pretty good idea of their overall expenditure.

Spend Some Time Evaluating Past Successes (and Failures)

We know you’re busy. Which often means that at the end of one marketing campaign, you have to move straight on to the next one, with no time in between to take a step back and figure out what worked and what didn’t.

However, this is such a worthwhile and valuable part of the process that you can’t afford to keep missing it out. If you’re an established business, take a look at last year’s print marketing budget and ask yourself the following questions: did we achieve everything we wanted to with this budget? Were there any opportunities we missed out on due to insufficient funds? Which publications returned the highest ROI, and which ones turned out to be duds? By learning from past mistakes you’ll have the insight needed to set an appropriate budget. Just make sure to keep note of any changes in your business, or the competitive environment, such as hikes in your chosen agency’s fees. The commercial world moves quickly, so there’s no justification for setting a certain budget because “that’s what it’s always been”.

Sticking to Your Allocated Budget

So, you’ve settled on your budget, you’ve got a strong and lean print marketing strategy in place, and your stakeholders are happy. Congratulations – you’re starting off on the right foot.

However, this is only half of the job done: you actually need to stick to said budget to ensure you maximise its potential. As the year goes on and you get caught up in the heat of tight deadlines or sky-high targets, this can be easier said than done, resulting in overspend and loss of revenue. Here’s some tips to help you stay on track.

Split it out. When everyone involved is clear on how much of the budget is allocated to which particular channels or functions, you’re much less likely to overspend in any one area. Allocate a certain amount to purchasing of advertising space and media, another sum for design and creative, and another for tasks, such as salaries, printing and agency fees. Being up front about how your budget is segmented, and revisiting it throughout the year, will help ensure you stick to your original figure.

Analyse cost vs. benefit. Once your marketing strategy is decided, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily set in stone. If you discover something isn’t working and the costs are outweighing the benefits, there’s nothing to stop you re-evaluating your tactics.

Constantly measuring the success of your marketing efforts, making sure no extras costs have slipped in and stripping out any redundant or outdated expenditure will help to keep your outgoings as streamlined as possible.

Continually evaluate suppliers. Just as you’ll want to keep assessing your own strategies, it’s also helpful to keep an eye on any rising agency or supplier costs, and keep your options open. You might need to switch media buying agency, for example, or bring your freelance design work in-house.

Version control. Unlike digital marketing, once you’ve sent your flyer, direct mailer or newspaper ad to the printers, it’s final. There’s no taking it back. No wonder there always seems to be hundreds of versions flying around at certain points in the process to ensure perfection.

Streamline your print production process with cloud-based software, such as Web2Print, that keeps all collateral and versions in one place. This gives you an easy view of all changes, charges and expenditure at all times, minimising versions and the associated costs.

Clever Marketing - Surrey Digital AgencySticking to your print marketing budget takes discipline but it can be done. Managing your costs is important and if you need help, give us a call – we have over 11 years’ experience as a print management company.

We also offer graphic design and can turn your print into digital assets so, so get in touch now and see how we can help, Call 01276 534 680 or fill in our easy contact form.

Improve Mobile Conversion Rates - We show you 5 ways

Getting Your Mobile Marketing Strategy In Shape

The notion of creating a marketing strategy solely for mobile is a slightly contentious one. Many argue (like this fantastic article from Moz) the point that, actually, we should no longer be distinguishing between devices.  These days, we all want to target users who are on the go, and using more than one device – therefore, every strategy going forward should be a mobile one.

Or, more accurately, one built with a range of devices in mind, reflecting the modern customer journey. Gone are the days where a shopping experience began and ended on a laptop, so it no longer makes any sense for marketing teams to work in isolated siloes.

But for the time being, value definitely still remains in optimising your strategy for mobile, particularly if you’re new to the digital marketing space and want to make sure your existing tactics are still viable for mobile users. So let’s start with the most obvious question.

Why is Mobile So Important?

Well, last year mobile usage overtook that on desktop when it came to browsing, booking and purchasing online. Mobiles and other devices such as tablets are here to stay, and ignoring them completely will only lead to frustration from your customers, not to mention a decrease in revenue for you.

Let’s take a look at what, according to Search Engine Watch (via Online Publishers Association/Frank N. Magid Associates), consumers are doing on mobile devices:

  • 99.5% access content or information
  • 63.1% access the internet
  • 62.1% access email

Now think back to your current digital marketing strategy. Are you meeting this demand for mobile-friendly content? Are you making it easy for your customers to interact with you on their mobiles? If not, it’s time to figure out why. And fast. Here’s just a few things you might consider along the way.

Understanding Customer Mobile Habits

The extent to which – and how – you’ll need to adapt your overall marketing strategy for mobile will depend entirely on the percentage of your audience regularly using mobile to access and use your website and/or content. Not just the general figures, as we have explored above, but your specific audience.

Decipher this percentage, as well as exactly which device they use (is it mobile or tablet?), what activities they’re doing (are they buying or just perusing?) and how much time they spend on your site (what is the average bounce rate – are they finding what they’re looking for?) and use these results to adjust your strategy. For example, if your product has a fairly high price point and you find that not many mobile users are converting, work on improving the checkout process or making it more secure. You might choose to switch tactics entirely and treat mobile as more of a lead generation tool. Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture are just two tools which can help you obtain these invaluable insights.

Making Your Website Responsive

We’ve discussed responsive web design at length on this blog before, so you may well already be familiar with what it means, but just in case, check out our previous post: Are You Designing Responsively?

In 2015, having a responsive website is no longer something which is going to make you stand out from the crowd. In fact, failing to design responsively will make you the odd one out, and for all the wrong reasons. Designing your site with mobile in mind ensures your busy, on the go customers can have just as pleasant and easy experience on your site as a desktop user: resulting in less bounce, and more conversion.

A lot of companies tack mobile on to the end of their website design, like an afterthought. However, for a truly successful responsive website, it is important to design “from mobile up” – with every design decision you make, look at it from a mobile user’s point of view. This should take traditional and clunky design devices such as carousels, hovers and slow loading pages out of your website design repertoire.

Keep it Short, Sweet and Relevant

So, you’ve got a responsive website and a fairly clear idea of how your customers are behaving on mobile. What next? Well, you need to start marketing.

Most consumers now have their mobile device within reach 24/7, which presents you with an incredible, always-on marketing opportunity. According to The Guardian, “…one of the greatest opportunities for marketers today lies in managing personalisation for mobile devices.

You may already be personalising your website and advertising, so how does marketing on mobile differ from desktop? Well for starters, you’re working with a more limited amount of space. When it comes to content, deliver a truncated version with only the most relevant information, and keep targeted ads short and to the point. Streamlining your marketing efforts means your customer is less likely to lose interest quickly.

Secondly, when surfing on their mobile your customer is likely to be on the go; whether they’re commuting or just trying to find a destination.  This opens up a number of opportunities for geo-targeting – the delivery of a specific ad based on a browser’s location. Take Starbucks’ lead: they showed ads offering discounted coffees whenever a mobile user passed a branch. Which, considering the ubiquity of Starbucks chains, proved very successful indeed.

In essence, the key to making mobile an integral part of your marketing plan is to embrace the changes it demands, rather than feeling limited by them. Understanding browsing habits, designing responsively and personalising ads based on location are just three ways to ensure you make the most of the “always –on” phenomenon.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencyAre you ready to be serious about your mobile marketing strategy?

Call Clever, the Hampshire SEO specialists on 01276 534 680 or fill in our contact form to discuss your needs and make your website more mobile friendly.