Business

How To Succeed In Business By Doing Nothing

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I’ve just read a great article on the BBC Website about how businesses react to ups and downs.

It stems from a best-selling book by Leonard Mlodinow called the Drunkard’s Walk.

The book states that randomness plays a part in success. The ups and downs of bad luck, or good luck, mask – for a while – underlying quality, but few people are confident enough to stand by their judgements and so remain glued instead to short-term indicators which are bedevilled by chance.

It’s well worth a read and you can do so by clicking here.

5 Tips On How To ‘Humanise’ Your Business

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I’ve got to be honest – I’m not even sure if ‘Humanise’ is a real word, but I hope you understand where I’m coming from!

Looking at a business from the outside, whether literally outside the premises itself, or at the company website, you can get a good idea of what services  the business offers, and how you could potentially benefit from these services and / or products.

But what do you know about the business itself? About the people running the business? About the people who will sell you said product or service? About the people who will provide the after-sales care? The answer is – potentially very little.

And this is where Social Media can play a huge part in separating your business from the pack, and adding a human element to what may otherwise be a largely synthetic process.

Here are my top 5 tips:

1) Write A Blog
Rumours of the death of blogging have been greatly exaggerated, honestly. Yes, video is now king, but a written blog builds up a great picture of who you are as people. Think about writing a blog as inviting someone into your living room – the things that this person would see around them would give them an instant indication of what you’re like as a person. A picture on the wall, a guitar in the corner, a magazine on the coffee table, your CD collection, some baby toys in a box. Yes I’ve just described my own living room but apply this to your business and your customers will feel more warmth and empathy towards you, rather than someone who is just trying to sell them something.

2) Use Video
As above – video is king. The average user online watches 188 videos per month, and I’m not just talking about those kinds of video…  A weekly video blog or interview with a staff member – or even customer video testimonials – are a great way to engage with your customers and clients.

3) Build Relationships on Social Media Platforms
Platforms such as Facebook allow you to see what your customers are saying. Some of these comments may well be negative, which incredibly, I’ve had people say to me in the past is a bad thing! Of course it isn’t – it’s a great thing. Word of mouth is a powerful thing – there’s an age-old adage that people will tell ten people about a negative business experience but only one about a positive. The problem with this is you would never find out – but not any more! Not only can you find out – but you can respond, and if you respond in the right way you can quickly turn a negative into a positive. But you should also be engaging daily – pose open questions and reply to them, run little competitions, allow your customers to be ‘part’ of what you’re doing.

4) Let Your Personality Shine Through
Boring is forgettable – Personality is memorable. Don’t hold back – be yourself. If you’re the life and soul in the office, then transfer this through the keyboard, make it jump out of the screen! But also…

5) Take It ‘Offline’ Too
As much of an advocate of Social Media as I am, make sure you engage with your customers in person too. Ultimately, the aim of most businesses is to sell – it’s what we all set out to do, hey, it’s what we as business owners need to do. There are a million sales people out there with a million techniques, but I would argue that one of the best things you can do is get to know your customers and clients as people and stay in touch with them regularly. Build rapport and see the people you do business with as your friends.

What do you reckon? Let me know if you have a number 6 that I haven’t covered…

Five Social Media Myths Busted!

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I’ve just read this great article would love it if you read it too – it debunks five common Social Media myths and is spot on.

In a nutshell:

1 – Social Media is not free because even though there is no charge to use the main platforms, your time has a value.

2 – You don’t have to use every single Social Media platform – do whatever will work best for your business.

3 – Last year Facebook grew 277% in the 34-55 age group alone – Social Media is not just for kids…

4 – Once the accounts are set up, the hard work is not done – it’s just beginning.

5 – You CAN sell using Social Media – you just have to do it properly.

Please click here to read the full article.

Email: Alive and Kicking… For Now At Least

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Ah email, our old friend.

The home of:

FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: THIS WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH LOL

And of course, the classic:

$11m UGANDAN LOTTERY WINNER – CONGRATULATIONS!

With the hotly anticipated improved Facebook message application being gradually implemented, many experts are predicting the beginning of the end for email as we know it.

People are moving more towards wanting everything in one place, and Facebook makes perfect sense for this as the majority of people that you know are (or will eventually be) on Facebook, as are an ever-increasing number of businesses.

With the advent of Facebook Places, you will easily be able to see where your friends are, and even if they are online before emailing them, creating a fully interactive messaging system that would leave Outlook looking like an ancient relic.

However, don’t write email off just yet, it still has a large part to play in how we communicate and how we do business – in particular, how we engage with our clients and customers.

Here are five ways that email remains vital:

1)       You can drive people to your website. In my last blog post I talked about the importance of not only having a website, but also in what you use to get people to look at it. A regular email update is one way of doing this, which also leads me onto…

2)       You can incentivize people to engage with you using social media. A simple ‘Follow Us On Facebook’ button is great. However a competition that incentivizes all new Twitter /Facebook followers can be really effective. A client I have recently worked with gave away a fabulous prize to one of their Twitter followers once they had reached 1000. They went from 800 to 1000 in no time at all. Using email to encourage your clients to follow you can be just as effective.

3)       Get your blog out there! Email the opening paragraph of your most recent blog to your clients and encourage them to ‘click here’ to read the rest – this is much more interesting to your clients than a ‘newsletter’ heading and drives traffic to your blog / website to boot.

4)         Even better – you can take your website to the people! A decent email template can contain much of the same links that you already have on your website navigation – you just need to provide fresh content as the main ‘story’.

5)       It’s better to be in touch than not to be. Many of your customers are used to being contacted by email, and while the ultimate switch to Social Media is a gradual transition, email remains a tried and tested way of communicating, and if you can link to Social Media platforms and your website at the same time you can have the best of all worlds!

So are you sending regular updates to your customers? How do you inform your clients of promotions or special offers? How do you drive people to your website? Drop me a line and let me know… an email is fine 🙂

matt@thebrightclick.co.uk 

Why Social Media Is More Important Than Your Website

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Last week I opened my door to find a peculiar yellow book on my doorstep. I picked it up, looked at it, and dropped it straight into my recycling bin without a second thought. A bit harsh perhaps, but my house is cluttered enough as it is without adding more to it with stuff I don’t need.

I then switched the TV on to be met with an advert, where a man called Day V Lately (who on earth came up with that?!) is looking for his own album in a bunch of record shops, quite possibly using this yellow book to do so, before retreating to the internet, where using the web version of this yellow book he manages to find the album in a split second, problem solved.

I felt slightly confused by this – a company produces a book that lands on your doorstep, and then puts out an advert effectively saying that this book doesn’t work any more, use the internet instead!

The fact is that this book is a LOT smaller than it used to be. And rightly so, these days, it’s considered essential for a business to have a website – if you have a business, you have a website. But how do you drive people to your site? SEO is the obvious answer, it costs money but is hugely effective when done properly. But even then, is your website dynamic?

By this I mean is it enough just to have a website, box ticked? The kind of site that people will only visit once, as the information never changes? And even if you do change the information from time to time, how do you keep your customers up to date without bombarding them?

The answer is simple – Social Media.

Yes it’s important to have a good-looking, informative website, and it should be kept up to date. But with a Facebook Business Page you can keep your customers updated in real-time – they can see a daily snippet of information about your business in their news feed – information that will take them seconds to read, but will keep your business on their radar.

I didn’t stay up to watch the Superbowl the other night, but during the famous advertising slots the majority of the major brands were directing their customers to Facebook rather than their own respective websites! Why? Because that’s where their customers are – all in one place, so that’s where they, the businesses, need to be too.

It’s a brilliant tool for advertising special offers, staff changes, opening and closing times, seasonal hours – it’s easier than ever to engage with and communicate with your customers.

And, even more crucially, it’s easy for your customers to communicate with you too. If your customer has a gripe, they can tell you about it publicly. And you can tell the world how great your customer service is by dealing with it publicly too. I currently know of a few cases in terms of local businesses where simple Google searches lead to negative reviews that are sitting untouched for everyone to see. Being pro-active on Social Media platforms would most likely prevent this from happening, but on the occasions that it did, would enable the chance to be able to put things right quickly.

The above is just one example of how Social Media can improve your business and drive goodwill as well as revenue.

If you want to know more, or have any comments then please write on my wall at www.facebook.com/mattdavismedia and I’ll show you how it can work!

The Lights Are On…

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In the last few days I’ve seen a few examples where companies seemed to think that their customers are not the sharpest tools in the box, or as I once heard this described – “The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming!”

This all started on Sunday evening when I caught a few minutes of Dancing On Ice. If you’ve never seen this show – basically it’s a bunch of celebrities (and ‘Comedy’ Dave) trying not to fall over in front of ten million people. It’s a peculiar world where Torville and Dean talk but don’t skate, Phillip Schofield is the authority on the ‘Death Spiral’, and Vanilla Ice is referred to simply as ‘Robert’.

After each dance you get to text, phone or email to vote for which performance you enjoyed the most, with the loser booted off at the end of the show.  And it’s the ‘end of the show’ bit that’s important here, as under the list of numbers and suchlike on the caption for each performance, reads this beauty: DO NOT VOTE IF YOU’RE WATCHING ON ITV+1 OR CATCH-UP TV.

So in simple terms, don’t vote towards something that happens at the end of this live show, if the show has already finished. It’s like putting on the ‘Best of X Factor’ DVD and thinking ‘I can get Wagner to win this time, I’m sure I can!’

Among other things I have found are a bottle of Paraffin Emolient for helping babies with dry skin, with ‘Do Not Drink’ written on the label in small print. So if you’re short-sighted, in the bath and thirsty, you may be in trouble here.

And lastly, I brought a packet of nuts that said on the back ‘Warning: May Contain Nuts’.

No – DOES contain nuts, ‘may’ should never come into the equation, mainly because it’s a packet of nuts! I would be majorly disappointed if it DIDN’T contain nuts – I wanted nuts!

Most of these warnings are just back-covering overkill, and while it’s a mistake to think that your customers need every little detail explaining to them, there is no harm at all in reminding them regularly that you’re there.  More than ever, businesses need to engage with their customers and clients and be at the forefront of their minds when they are thinking of pressing the ‘buy’ button. Email updates and newsletters are still relevant, and businesses are increasingly turning to Social Media to establish themselves in the places that their customers are most likely to be looking.

Of course bringing in the new stuff is important, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s the hard work done – I reckon it’s at that point that the hard work begins.

Imagine your customer is standing in the dark, shining a torch, looking to make a purchase – would you rather be caught in the beam or staring at your competitors? Lead the way – leave your competitors envious of how are you are retaining your customer base.

Are you engaging properly with your existing clients? Let me know in the comment box below or drop me a line at matt@mattdavismedia.co.uk , I’d love to hear your opinion.

PS – If you are reading this blog on Tuesday – please do not comment. Your comment will not count and you may still be charged 🙂

Never Put Off To Tomorrow

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Late in 2009 I took a sales job with the remit of working from home. Having worked mainly in offices up to that point, I knew that this would pose somewhat of a challenge, primarily missing out on the office banter and of course the all-important gossip.

However it also meant no daily crawl along the A316 or having to remember that Winnie has sugar in her tea, sweetener in her coffee, so on this basis I was prepared to give it a crack.

Virtually everyone I told became some kind of work-at-home Nostradamus, despite most of those I spoke to having no previous experience in this area: “You will have to be disciplined” and “it will be much  harder than you think” were two of the more regular nuggets of advice that would crop up.

However unlike Nostradamus, my friends were actually right, and although I quickly figured out how I would need to stay disciplined, man was it difficult.

There are just so many distractions. Radio, TV, the kettle, Facebook, breakfast, lunch, dinner, even putting out the bins, it was a constant battle to stay focused and motivated.

Which is what leads me to the subject of procrastination.

It’s just too easy to put things off that you would rather not be doing. But when these things are paying your mortgage, keeping your son in nappies (ie a second mortgage the way my son goes through them), then it has to be combated – and fast.

I have learned subsequently from my good friend QJ that a lot of this is to do with your mindset, and he has some great techniques on how to deal with this.  There are three things I use to help me.

Firstly, I make lists of what I need to do. Sometimes two or three lists per day, but I work through them and tick things off when they are done. This feels GOOD. Looking back at your lists with everything crossed off at the end of the day is a great feeling, and also guarantees that you’re getting everything done to boot.

I also can’t remember where I heard this, but there is a phrase that sticks in my mind – “The Best WayTo Get Something Done Is To Begin”. So I always try and do ‘one more thing’ before making that cup of tea, checking my Facebook etc – it’s effective as it’s one more thing ticked off the list.

And the third is direct from QJ, and sounds insane but is actually brilliant. When I’m really struggling to get to grips with starting something, I stand up, smile, and say the word ‘Coconuts’ as loud as I’m able to (don’t try this on the tube, or around the elderly). Please don’t ask me why this works – but trust me, it does, for me anyway but I would urge you to give it a try.

In the meantime, why not put whatever you were about to do on hold and give this a watch :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P785j15Tzk&feature=related

A Pizza PR Too Far…?

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The Pizza Hut buffet. Not so much a meal – more of a culinary challenge.

A friend of mine once ate 17 slices in a row (plus salad) after we had ‘popped in’ for lunch, a feat that to this day remains unchallenged as far as I’m aware.

The ice-cream factory, stuffed crust, and two-for-Tuesday – Pizza Hut is famous for lots of things, but today it was in the news for a very different reason.

A group of black professional footballers (from AFC Bournemouth) have claimed that they were racially discriminated against, having been told they would have to pay for their meal before being served at a local Pizza Hut restaurant.

Pizza Hut initially responded by claiming that they were simply following police advice after a number of previous incidents where customers had left without paying, and that it was in no way racially motivated.

Later on this evening, they also released this carefully-worded, and admittedly well-written statement.

This of course was absolutely the right thing to do. I have witnessed situations first-hand in the past where the attitude has been that ‘this is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper’, and the situation has been allowed to eventually blow over.

But there has never been a more prudent time to get your communication right than at present and in the statement they released, I think they got it right.

They also released a part-statement on their Facebook fan page, with a link to the full article – from a PR perspective this would seem like an obvious way to communicate the message quickly to their fans – nearly 166,000 of them.

However what quickly followed in the thread was a real mish-mash of comments, some alarmingly ill-informed and at times borderline racist in themselves.

It got me thinking that yes, ultimately it’s right to be transparent, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with debate and discussion, far from it. But it also got me thinking that had Pizza hut just released the statement, which would then be carried on all major news sites and papers, the issue could well have been dealt with efficiently and brushed aside quickly.

But in officially publishing the article on Facebook, did they merely open up a can of worms, with numerous ill-advised comments now associated with the statement and forever collected and collated on the fan page?

I think that this admittedly unique situation put their Social Media manager in a near impossible position, where any positive PR could be quickly negated by ignorance;  essentially it was a no-win situation as having made the statement, more questions would have been asked if it hadn’t subsequently appeared on Facebook.

So a rare potential down-side for companies using Social Media?

Or is all publicity good publicity regardless?

I’d be very interested to hear your opinion…

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