Getting Back to Business-Real Business

So as businesses, some of us had to close our doors, some of us had to adapt survival strategies to get us through knowing business would commence once Covid-19 was ‘so called controlled’, whilst other steamed ahead with a whole new market such as Zoom and mask makers. For the latter I am sure you are managing your own strategy but you may wish to read this as your business may calm down soon. I already cancelled my Zoom upgrade to a FREE basic package with the changes in my business structure. They lost £14.99 from me and I am sure many other businesses who now have headed back to the office.

It has been very difficult for everyone and especially if you have big overheads such as staff, rent, rates, mortgages and even outstanding bills from suppliers. Marketing will probably be the last thing on your mind but it really needs to be addressed seriously as we move into this semi-open stage.

I wrote an article on the website related to Keeping Your Brand through the Covid Crisis and highlighted it was vital to ensure it was maintained throughout. What will you be remembered for during this crisis? Your customers will remember that message for a long time to come so it is vital you assess that and ask your Customers. There is still time to make any changes…

Contact and Communication

This has been vital for businesses throughout the Covid Crisis and I have encouraged constant updates through your Social Media channels. Face Book, Twitter and Instagram are all free and are wonderful marketing tools when you have little or no budget. All they need is time and please set aside some to ensure you use it. Make sure you have been and now are sending empathetic emails, both being sympathetic to the customer, whilst encouraging business.

Keeping your clients up to date with opening times, your safety regulations, what you are now offering is vital. Also the message I am receiving seems to be ‘Thanks to our Local Businesses for Staying Open during the Covid Crisis and Supporting the Community’. Brilliant but hey these local people supported you so put great big banners outside and the biggest message is thanks to YOU WE HAVE SURVIVED! Your customers want to feel important, involved and will respond to a great big thank you. I also have a Travel business which of course, hit a wall, but my customers have been awesome and I constantly thanked them for supporting me throughout and we are now off to Snowdon in a few weeks, plus lots more tours and it is totally due to them that my Walking Company has survived.

Advertising

Everyone is fighting for the small amount of money that is available and advertising is much cheaper at present with local newspapers, so it is a great time to do it  BUT negotiate for the best deal.  Always ensure you get some FREE press release space with a great big photo. It is vital your message is a strong one in the advert. Insert a dated ‘voucher’advert not a general information advert and just a small box advert is enough-provided the newspaper offer some FREE article space.

Press Releases

The biggest mistake people make is to say too much so if you offer a newspaper an article use the following triangle rules of writing it. ‘Essential, then informative, then be nice to have if there is room’ and of course a great photo with a caption.

Charitable/Community Support

Our Customers have gone through so many emotions during Covid-19 and are still doing so. Sadly thousands died, people lost jobs, mental health rose tremendously and so many felt the despair of loneliness, isolation and anxiety. Why not support a local or national charity that you believe in, related to one of these sad situations, or get your staff involved in a challenge to raise money. Make sure you shout what you are doing from the roof tops. Supporting the local community is great but that is everyone’s news- sorry I want more..It’s great but not enough!

Discounts and Vouchers

What you are going crazy? Money is so tight already how can I do that? Listen so many people are fighting now for the small amount of money that people have to spend so why not offer a discount to say thank you to your local community for supporting you. Give a FREE biscuit in a coffee shop, a FREE piece of jewellery, a FREE glass of wine in a bar. These customers got you through and will continue to do so and if you don’t grab them someone else will. The government are offering some restaurant and pub discount strategies so ensure you put out the message if they are applicable to you.

Get Rid of Old Stock Now

We had an awesome spring and people are now thinking Autumn so if you are in the retail industry ensure you are well ahead with getting rid of old stock that should have well sold by now. People have so little money and are thinking of small treats if at all possible and clothes, especially are not predominant on their minds. Going out has been reduced and they have been spending online so have lots in their cupboards ready to wear. I am not an expert on this but please be aware. We all know stock is money you need.

Staff Smilies

How did you treat your staff during the Covid-19. We all hear rumours of the big guys and the bad guys so make sure if you treated them well, that there are some fabulous team photos and great big thank you’s from them. People want to know you are a fair, ethical and moral local business. Also make sure they are treated well and watch what they are posting on their social media!

Let’s hope we are back on the road to business recovery. But I also trust this time has given you a space to re-assess your business, become more resilient and be aware none of our businesses can ever be safe..

 

Good luck and thanks for reading

Diane Carter

Marketing Consultant

Marathon Media

Please contact me for FREE advice and tips..

Suffering in Silence     5 Tips to Show Your Customers You’re Still There

I walked through the streets of my local town yesterday and the only message I could see in each window was ‘Closed due to the COV-19 Virus’. A few had a number to call if you wanted to purchase something but written on a scribbled note. It felt like a Ghost Town and all the businesses had been closed down. Where were their owners? What was happening to their businesses? When would they return? There seemed to be a definite ‘Suffering in Silence’

Whilst I totally appreciate that a lot of business owners are worried about how they will get through the next few months paying suppliers, rent, staff and of course themselves; there will be ‘another side’ and we need to keep in touch with our Customers to let them know we are there for them now and definitely in future.

Lots of us own local businesses and therefore have great, very close relationships with our customers and to disappear completely they may even feel they have lost a ‘friend’. You may have been the only person they have spoken to  all day and that is what brought them back again and again and told their friends about you too.

Customer Relations and Customer Retention are both essential at this time and here are 5 Tips to help you do this. Money is tight of course so of course most are FREE or low cost ideas

  1. Your shop or business window. Again a few shops have just put up plain paper to cover items and prevent damage or theft. Why not put a few rainbows and pictures drawn either by local children during their extended holidays or any of you own promotion posters? Put a nice message out to passers-by to thank them for previous business and look forward to seeing them in future. If you support the #StayIndoorsStaySafe Campaign put up a picture of you doing so.  Put up a Team Photo if appropriate. Brighten up the high street. What do you want to be remembered for?
  2. Social Media Again a great FREE tool to keep in touch and whilst you have FREE time brush up your skills on Face Book, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. If you can sell online but have not been doing so, now could be the time to learn how to do so. Start small. Use local community networks to keep in touch and get involved. Beware of the gossip sites. If you have not already done so set up your own Face Book page and keep it busy. If you want more advice I am happy to help. Always remember the 1 in 4 rule. 1 Post Selling and 3 with Information, Tips or Nice Pics.
  3. Great Press Releases Maybe you are supporting a local charity by donating food or offering your premises to the NHS or the homeless. You could be offering free delivery services to certain groups. Just shout out anything good you are doing or be assured your competition will. Check the local papers for what others are doing or what services people need and try to do at least something for your local community.
  4. Customer Relations Management. Again it is vital to keep in touch as much as possible with your customers and if you don’t already have a system in place I can highly advise you do so. I use one called Capsule which costs approx. £10 per month and is perfect for a small business. It offers you the opportunity to enter client’s data, tag them in relation to what service/items they buy and then stores it online. Also for data protection you can contact your customers via email using their BCC so other customers don’t see private emails. It is a great system and as it is online it doesn’t block up your computer space. For advice about Customer Relationship Management systems just send an email. The system is only as good as the data you put in it, but if you have time on your hands now then use it to create a really good asset for your business.
  5. Advertising No Way that is crazy as we can’t sell anything or expect people to buy anything? Ok so advertising prices right now in local newspapers should be considerably cheaper for that reason. Look at what products you can offer and how you can supply them during this period then ensure you use the advert to let people know. Also as I stated in point 3, during this period you should be able to persuade the newspaper to offer some FREE Press release space to support your advert.  Think about a short period of diversification to help you get through this.  Just remember your brand needs to be consistent throughout and always get someone else with ‘Fresh Eyes’ to check your advert and editorial to ensure it is positive, represents your brand and is clear.

I hope this article has helped give you some positive thoughts and if you want any help please email me at diane@marathon-media.co.uk

Thanks for reading

Diane

Note: I do understand that in relation to the government grant/payments you may need to check with the HMRC guidelines or your accountant related to commercial operations during this period.

In addition to being a Marketing Consultant I  have a travel company; Atlas Discovery Holidays, organising walking tours both in Europe and the UK. Of course now it is on hold, so I totally understand how many of you feel with cancelled plans, dealing with concerned Customers whilst trying to work with suppliers and service providers. I should currently be in Spain trekking in the sunshine mountains, but as I can’t I decided rather than sulk, though I must admit I did for a few days, I would focus on this business and see if I could help others in a similar situation.

Often when travelling we use economy airlines and when we leave to get our separate Ryan Air seats we all shout “See you on the other side”. We leave the UK often in the dark early hours or on a cloudy day and the flight feels long and a bit dull but as we near the end of the journey we see the sun in the sky. The Captain announces to take our seats and fasten our seat belts for landing and then off the plane we descend taking in the sunshine and heat of our destination. We gather excitedly to head off for our planned tour. I’ve got my agenda under my arm and I’m prepared.

We are currently in a very dark hour and it feels cloudy and grey. We are worried about our families and friends health and maybe our own, but of course we are worried about our businesses.

Looking at a few websites and Face Book pages it looks like businesses have already given up, packed up and gone home. At the onset a few tried different ‘quick fix tactics, but as Government restrictions tighten now most of those won’t work.  There is a dark spirit around and whilst I know I am an optimist I have to be realistic. This period is going to be very tough for us business owners. BUT we need to focus on survival based on Resources, Resilience, Relationships and Retention.

Resources

So money will be tight and you need to look at how you can source income for yourself. You may also have a team of staff; again you need to prioritise the care of your valued team. Treat them wrong in their eyes and they may go all over Social Media. Then look at the resource of time which you may not have had for a long time to sit down, look at your business and seriously consider the way forward. If you had a 2020 one year plan or 5 year plan sit and adapt it now…Beware many online companies or business on Linked In are offering FREE Emergency Contingency Plans. They may be genuine, but I just tried to sign up for one to see what is was about and after asking for endless data then asking me to click links – a red flag went up!

Resilience

We all feel panicky, but we need to be tough and be prepared. Read motivational books. Read books about Companies surviving recessions, pit closures, economic crashes. Use this time to be armed with knowledge whilst you are self-isolated at home. Also build up resilience through exercise.  My best ideas come when I am out walking or running. You need to do this also for your mental health because as a Business Leader you will have a strong mind. Build resilience through sharing experience with your trusted business colleagues or networking group; which may be meeting online.

Relationships

The Big Questions are:-

What do you want your Customers to remember you for after this crisis is over? Write several words

Your Brand Is it still running strong through the COV-19 problem

Your logo Are you standing true to your word

Customer Service It is vital you communicate with your Customers and don’t put your head in the sand. Use Face Book, Email, texts and even the dreaded telephone. Everyone now has time to take a call. Go one step ahead. Staff may be limited so you may have to do it and this could be the perfect time to go ‘on the front line’.

Retention

It is vital you not only communicate with clients but look forward to what you can offer them after this crisis. It is hard to do this, but once, we hope, this situation is resolved people will soon want to get back into real life and you need to let them know you are prepared and able to deliver.

I run a tourist company and I am working on tours ready when we can get out there again. I have to be sensitive not to push it too much, but I know my Customers and through a balance I can ‘drip drip’ market happy memories through previous holiday photos and also show some of the wonderful places we have to visit to give them hope. I’ve had so much support offering ideas of new UK tours and messages of kindness.

I use a Customer Relationship Management software programme, called Capsule with a small fee per month. This is a wonderful way to keep in touch as you can email different sectors of your clients. Also once the Crisis is over you can send out discounts, updates on what you can offer and tell them how prepared you are. Plus offer a great big thank you for supporting your business throughout.

I will be offering regular updates so please sign up to the newsletter. This is all FREE. Hopefully once you have some money in your pot you might like to call me in for some Marketing Advice.

Hope the above helps and keep positive. Always smile when you put up a Face Book Post or send an email or Make a Call.

Thanks for reading Diane (Photo show me in preparation for the Caminito del Ray, Malaga last Christmas) walking over one of the scariest gorges in the world.  Can’t wait to do it again and I will!

 

 

Diane Carter Gallery 080When you are in a Business sometimes YOU MISS OUT on so many Opportunities and before you know it YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS

I hope that is enough to please encourage you to read this month’s business article.

MARKETING CAN BE SCARY Marketing is often seen as the last thing a Business does and many business owners in my experience, turn to me  when they have so little business or even nothing and are in panic. Also at this stage they have very little money or are reluctant and of course fearful to invest it as often marketing may takes several months to achieve a return.

I am going to talk to you today about small low cost or free things you can do in your SME business to keep you busy and even grow your business. But you must set aside a few hours a week to plan this, budget for it and of course assess which is working. Spend wisely.

Advertising Oh yes here we go the expensive side of Marketing. Yes it can be and many business colleagues have been fooled by promises of results in  glossy magazines or largely circulated newspapers. Stop and ask yourself does this paper hit the areas you want to work in? Does it have lots of other businesses offering similar services? Is it aimed at the people you want to reach?  If you are not sure write a few things about that person.  Their age? Social Level (yes there is often one underlying), Employed or Retired. Where do they shop? These big advertisers are very persuasive and keen to tie you into a long term expensive contract that can destroy you. If it is something you want only have a trial run. Stick to your guns.

Online Advertising  Read the rest of this entry »

Diane Carter Gallery 057Do you play the numbers game?

Do you  send out hunders or even of thousands of emails to potential clients?

Well the Good News is that Emails are now actually becoming more favoured. With the increased use of social media and mobile phones your email could be read if you spend time in preparation.

Communication is now being used in mainly three ways:-

Emails are now mainly used for business to business or business to the domestic market. People are happy to recieve special offers, information and regular updates. But due to the mass increase you have to be clever to ensure they don’t press the delete button. Face Book – This is now used mainly for communication with friends. Of course it is an invaluable tool also for businesses and we will talk about that in another tutorial. Texting Whilst businesses use this the main purpose is for family communication. This gives little hope for telephone calls but in a busy world people simply avoid. Businesses do use texting but many people see it as an intrusion into their personal life.

So here are a few tips to get your email read and not and not the reader RED! Grrrr…

Christmas is Coming-Is Your Business Ready?

imagesI have a big concern as winter approaches as some advertising clients decide to stop with the reasoning “It Goes Quiet” “People are spending money on gifts, meals out, parties, glamming up”.

Do staff still need to be paid? Suppliers? Overheads? So where is the income going to come from?

 Whilst understanding that it costs money to advertise I believe that at a time when your business income could be rapidly reduced it is the right time to advertise BUT MORE IMPORANT TO ADVERTISE RIGHT!

You need to ask yourself some questions? Do people buy my products over the winter or Christmas period? What do they buy? How much income is reduced? Do they want to use my services and if so which do they choose to use?

Spend a little time now considering last year and how it impaired you and your business. Your personal and family too will be affected as your income drops just at a time when your children might be begging for a new ‘tablet’ or bike.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PLAN.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sherwood image_crThe Benefits of Local Advertising are endless…

Small-business owners use advertising to help increase brand recognition, product sales, gain new foot traffic and encourage repeat business. Common advertising outlets include radio, television, Internet, magazines and newspapers. Although advertising your business via non-print outlets such as radio or television can be advantageous, local community newsletter advertising offers many benefits that make investment on your part worthwhile.

 

 

Proactive Audience
Newspaper readers often actively look for advertising in newspapers to search for deals and coupons. Placing your ad in a newspaper doesn’t guarantee that readers will notice it, but a reader actively looking for deals is likely to notice your ad, take the time to read it and possibly act on a sale or offer.

Positive Expectations Read the rest of this entry »

before 20160611_112712Here is me before I rose to the challenge of ‘Braving the Shave’ for Macmillan Cancer. I chose to go for this and ‘lose my  locks’ as part of my fundraising campaign to raise £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support as one of  my close friends  is  just going through Cancer treatment.

My initial goal was to climb Crib Goch, a scary ridge in Snowdonia in August but having checked the Macmillan Cancer Support website I spotted the ‘Brave the Shave’ Campaign and immediately felt that I wanted to do it. Using Face Book I invited my friends to support me promising that if £200 was donated I would be visiting the hairdressers. Within 24 hours  I had the total and Karen of the Kutting Room, Blidworth, kindly shaved my hair for me offering a kind hand to hold as I was nervous.

The ‘Brave the Shave’ set off my fundraising campaign and so far I have raised over £350 Read the rest of this entry »

Diane Carter Gallery 057My life has changed since I reached the age of 49. My business life also changed at this point. I knew I needed a new direction.

It is a FACT that most men (including women) achieve greater success after their forties and fifties due to possible extra experience, but a major factor; where they put their focus and energy. They now realise what they want to do and what they want to achieve. However I was struggling a little on both these issues.

I took a total step back from my Marathon Media marketing business and a step out of the Corporate Cage. Colleagues didn’t understand why I chose to not get up at 6 am, put on my shift dress and stop networking? The reason was simple; I had lost my way and was not happy with the product I was offering within my Marathon Media business and I was not happy with what I was presenting as myself at these meetings. I refused to be a fake, I was burnt out. I took a step out of the Commercial World and simply refused to return until I was back on form.

Read the rest of this entry »