Small Business Support Blog
If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!
We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.
If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected]
Do you remember the days when marketing was really straightforward? Those days when promoting a product or service relied heavily on printed materials - or if you were one of the big boys then a TV advert, radio ad or motorway billboard may have been your promotional medium of choice.Advertising was simple - you explained the product and what it did. Ronseal made a giant (and successful) campaign out of it. Branding was merely a way of distinguishing your Pledge polish to your Mr Shine (albeit through augmenting dream lifestyles) and although brands were very important (mild green fairy liquid anyone?) they were not the all encompassing business identifiers that they have evolved to be now.Back then small businesses could promote themselves via leaflets, local newspaper adverts and those golden tomes that everyone revered - the Yellow Pages! Can you remember as a kid the yellow pages being beside or underneath the phone in the hallway and if the boiler went on the blink, your parents leafing through trying to find someone with a name and number that sounded reliable to come out and fix it so you could Dad could take his shower? It was a choice between Bob Smith and Mick Price, and ooh how to choose.Fast forward to 2019 and the landscape for marketing a business, be it small or juggernaut is dramatically different. It’s not just that the mediums have changed with digital marketing spend now the predominant budget buster for all businesses, but the real shift has been towards content marketing. Content marketing is the process of using materials (videos, text and images) to convery messages which are not directly about promoting a product or service. The effect is submilinal - creating an interest in the business without the "hard sell". So how, as small business owners can you harness the power of content marketing for your business, in a world where influencers can be paid up to $200k for a post and social media algorithms seem intent on relinquishing you to the corners of doom?To make the concept of content marketing for small businesses as simple as possible I’ve created the TIME system, and you can use this to make a plan for your marketing strategy that will set you apart from your competitors.T = TeachOne of the simplest but most effective ways of getting people involved in your business is to teach them something. How to videos, step by step guides and handy tips which will make their life easier or help them achieve their goals will get you a following and gain you interest in your business. Mrs Hinch has made a lifelong career off of the back of this, and companies like Beardbrand have grown exponentially from creating content using this approach.I = InspireSimply telling people what your product or service does just doesn’t wash anymore. A brand represents more than just a logo - it is the overall manifestation of that companies presence in the world - it’s policies, procedures and values are now just as important to consumers as the product or service. Why? Because they have millions of others to choose from, so the brand has to be more than just the physical.As a small business your content needs to inspire your audience to action. Whether that’s because you create inspirational blogs about interiors if you are home wares business, or it demonstrate the effects of global warming on the planet to raise awareness as part of your eco commitment (for eco-conscious businesses). The top tip here however is consistency. Become known for your posts on environmental issues, or gain a reputation for highlighting a particular style or issue. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades because it won’t work. BrambleSky give daily inspiration on wedding cakes and floristry in their content strategy - it just so happens that all of the cakes and flowers are featured on BrambleSky products!M = MovementGetting something to go “viral” is like the holy grail for modern marketers, but it does mean that you run the risk of being a flash in the pan or a one hit wonder.Building a movement is the process of using your content strategy to get people believing in your ethos and style. The brand MVMT are doing this with their consistent approach to getting their watches photographed in wanderlust places - creating the ethos of a brand linked with travel and luxury lifestyles. This is an approach which small businesses can use to gain their own momentum and movement. Worsley Gin have started this with their “Worsley on Tour” instastories campaign - people take their mini Worsley Gin bottles on holiday and picture them in funny or beautiful locations.E = EnergyThe best content marketing strategies have an energy about them that creates a lasting impression. Brands which are successfully building their sales are focussing on the energy that they want to create with their audience and pump all of their own energy into developing the ethos.As a small business you need to think about what energy you want to build with your audience... is it comfort (like Cadbury), is it urgency (like Nurofen) or is it indulgence (like Magnum or Secret Escapes) whatever the energy you want to create, take a look at your content approach and see if it’s making those waves?As for me, the energy and movement I’m trying to build is one of purpose and empowerment. I want small businesses to feel like they are not lost in a sea of conglomerates and that you can build your businesses without a degree in programming or Kylie Jenner pretending to like your stuff.What’s your movement?
Since embarking on the journey of helping entrepreneurs with their businesses a couple of things have happened to me. Firstly I now know way too much about Luxury Gin (when I secretly don’t like it that much) and secondly my social media has been taken over by a load of hogwash.My google searches on the various topics associated with entrepreneurship and business management have obviously informed all of the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram that I am now a “Female Entrepreneur” (interesting that I was one before I did the searches but my feed used to be filled with fashion adverts) and the content that is now pushed to me is extraordinary to say the least. Where I used to see Matches.com sporting slightly edgy bomber jackets and Jimmy Choo killer heels in my sponsored or suggested content, I am now met with the gleaming faces of what purports to be wildly successful women living dream lives (always with MacBooks perched on their laps or with champagne in their hands). I am being proffered an abundant and nomadic lifestyle at the click of a button; if I just sign up to this course, or if I read this e-book. Who doesn’t want to earn 7 figures whilst lying on a sun lounger in Miami? (Well me actually because I’m not really into the America thing, I’m much more of an Italian coast kind of girl with the promise of pasta and a cold glass of Gavi never far away...)These courses, books and memberships are “essential” to my becoming successful, to attracting abundance and wealth and success and happiness and vitality and and and and... to be honest it’s flipping exhausting the amount my cup will runneth over if I just spend £598 on their content. I’m a pretty tough nut to crack but even I have been drawn in by the promises of working a 10 hour week and frequent travel to far flung destinations if I just purchase xxx.To be clear I’m not writing this post to denounce these businesses and their offer. If you have hundreds or thousands of pounds to invest in your mindset then go for it, because the chances are you’ve already got your mindset into making it a success. Here’s the thing however, don’t believe that simply a mindset shift is going to suddenly transform your business and your lifestyle. The life of a solopreneur for the majority looks much different, and it looks a lot more like hard work and little return for a long, long time.It’s getting up at 5am and having no one to talk to for at least two hours because the rest of the world is still in its bed. It’s talking to yourself in the shower (daily team meeting) and then forgetting if you actually used shampoo so washing your hair twice. It’s debating whether to invest that last £300 in stock, equipment or marketing, and its constantly wondering whether you are doing the right thing. It’s well meaning people never understanding what you actually do and thinking that you don’t have a “real job” because you work from home and therefore why can’t you just watch little Johnny for them for a couple of hours? It’s spraying a quick spritz of deodorant on before dashing out to pick up the kids from school because you’ve been lugging boxes/sat at a desk/running around all day and you have no time to have another shower. It’s scrolling through social media while you are on the loo and seeing pictures of apparently wildly successful women running 7 figure businesses from a sun lounger and thinking “shit I have got this all wrong”.To all the Mumpreneurs, the Fempreneurs, the Mama bosses, the Girl bosses and the why cant we just be called Business Owners - here’s to us. You are doing great. Rather than thinking you need to spend £598 on those courses, instead think of areas your business needs investment and then put them through a simple test to see if investing will do one of these two things:
If it doesn’t do either of those things then chances are it’s a nice to have and you can make it wait.The other thing to think about with your hard earned £598 is this - why not spend it on the weekend away that lets you take a load of pictures from a sun lounger? The time off will make you more productive which will make you more profitable. You can always take your laptop if you like and have a picture of it perched on your lap with a glass of champagne in your hand...Worsley Creative is a boutique design studio which specialises in helping small businesses increase their online visibility.Pamela Rae-Welsh 18th July 2019
- Increase productivity or
- Increase profitability