Blog

Looking Through Your Customers Eyes

September 26th, 2013

 

Image is extremely important for all businesses – and for people come to think of it. We all form first impressions very quickly based on the first things we see, and for many businesses these first impressions may make the difference between people wanting to buy from us – or deciding to walk on by!
If you have a business with a physical location that customers actually visit, this becomes extremely important. Yet as business owners spend all day, every day on their premises, they seem to get blinkered by the day to day issues of running a business and don’t see what is basic and obvious to everyone else.
If you are one of these business owners, start seeing things through your customer’s eyes. Every day, or at least once a week, walk round your premises and see what your customers see.
Does Signage Need a Makeover? – Is this in good condition, clean, easy to read? Does it tell your customers what they need to know and does it portray the right image about your company?
Is Everything Clean? – A basic requirement you would think, but often overlooked as we get side tracked by the daily job of running a business. Are floors, windows and work surfaces clean? Is paint work fresh and not chipped?
Is Your Reception Area a Hovel? – I often sit in reception areas waiting for meetings and feel sad that some basic elements have been missed. Leaflets about the company may have been left out for people to read, but these are dog eared, grubby and sometimes out of date. Ensure that someone takes responsibility for your reception area and that they take a real pride in it. Clean tidy table and chairs, new reading material and if signs and notices are displayed on the walls, please make sure these are in good condition and up to date.
Are Outside Areas Respectable? – Is the area outside and close to your business clean and tidy? Does a flower bed or plant need weeding? Does litter need picking up? Even if the litter is on the road frontage and not on your premises it gives a bad impression and says you don’t care very much if you can’t be bothered picking it up. It can take less than a minute to sweep a footpath or pick up a discarded bottle, but it says you care about your business and you have attention to detail.
So next time you look at your business, do it through your customers eyes. You may be surprised what you see.

Image is extremely important for all businesses – and for people come to think of it. We all form first impressions very quickly based on the first things we see, and for many businesses these first impressions may make the difference between people wanting to buy from us – or deciding to walk on by!

If you have a business with a physical location that customers actually visit, this becomes extremely important. Yet as business owners spend all day, every day on their premises, they seem to get blinkered by the day to day issues of running a business and don’t see what is basic and obvious to everyone else.

If you are one of these business owners, start seeing things through your customer’s eyes. Every day, or at least once a week, walk round your premises and see what your customers see.

Does Signage Need a Makeover? – Is this in good condition, clean, easy to read? Does it tell your customers what they need to know and does it portray the right image about your company?

Is Everything Clean? – A basic requirement you would think, but often overlooked as we get side tracked by the daily job of running a business. Are floors, windows and work surfaces clean? Is paint work fresh and not chipped?

Is Your Reception Area a Hovel? – I often sit in reception areas waiting for meetings and feel sad that some basic elements have been missed. Leaflets about the company may have been left out for people to read, but these are dog eared, grubby and sometimes out of date. Ensure that someone takes responsibility for your reception area and that they take a real pride in it. Clean tidy table and chairs, new reading material and if signs and notices are displayed on the walls, please make sure these are in good condition and up to date.

Are Outside Areas Respectable? – Is the area outside and close to your business clean and tidy? Does a flower bed or plant need weeding? Does litter need picking up? Even if the litter is on the road frontage and not on your premises it gives a bad impression and says you don’t care very much if you can’t be bothered picking it up. It can take less than a minute to sweep a footpath or pick up a discarded bottle, but it says you care about your business and you have attention to detail.

So next time you look at your business, do it through your customers eyes. You may be surprised what you see.

 

 

How Twitter Really Does Work

March 11th, 2011

I am often asked by clients how important Twitter is to their business and my reply is nearly always the same – don’t expect Twitter alone to revolutionise your business – despite the current trend for Twitter seminars aimed at telling small businesses one and all just how important Twitter is!

What I do tell clients however, is that Twitter is a useful tool, which shouldn’t be overlooked as part of their marketing mix and this week I’ve had a lovely Twitter experience which I thought I would share with you to illustrate this wonderfully.

In June my 13 year old daughter is planning to swim across Grasmere, to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  This charity is extremely important to my daughter as her wonderful, clever, energetic, beautiful and brave  best friend has CF. As all charity organisers do, she set up a website to raise funds – using the new Virgin Money Giving Site which is a not for profit company – well done Richard!

When I had made an online donation to her charity swim the site gave me an option to tweet about it – so I thought why not, selected the button and did my tweet.

The next day we were all amazed and delighted that an old family friend who lives 300 miles away and we haven’t seen for a few years had sponsored her! How did he know?

Well I have my linked-in site set to automatically display my tweets, and as he was linked to me he received and email from linked-in telling him about the update on my page. He was then able to follow the link and he very kindly sponsored her.

Obviously a fabulous tool for raising funds for charity, but more important, this proves how tools like twitter and linked-in are excellent for dissipating information across your social and professional network and beyond.

So no – I still don’t believe that Twitter is the be all and end all to marketing – but I am delighted that my theory has been proved – it should definitely be part of everyone’s marketing mix.

And if you would like to sponsor my daughter you can do so here Support Cystic Fibrosis it is really worthwhile as they are making fantastic progress with genetic research around cystic fibrosis and the more of us who help the more likely it is that a cure will be found which will transform the lives of so many wonderful children and adults.

Fabulous Marketing at the Zoo

February 2nd, 2011

On Sunday I visited the South Lakeland Zoo with my family. We love this zoo and visit from time to time, but generally in the summer. We were prompted to visit on Sunday because we had just heard it was free to enter until the end of February!
And what a crackingly good idea it was for them to offer free entry. On a cold Sunday at the end of January when no doubt they would normally be nearly empty – the zoo was bursting at the seams. When we left, their main car park was full and it looked like they were on their 3rd over flow car park. Everyone who entered the zoo was asked if they wanted to make a donation – which we gladly did. There was then opportunities to buy animal food (we did), pay to feed the giraffes (we did), buy drinks and food, visit the shop – they even had an ice skating rink (we didn’t).
Whether the zoo was full or empty on Sunday they would have had a full set of keepers working plus people manning the cafe and shop, so their overheads would have been about the same, so this seems to have been a fabulous opportunity to bring in the hoards, spread the word and make some money.
The only opportunity I think they were missing out on was making sure those people return (and ideally pay an entrance fee). So I would have devised a mechanism to collect email addresses of as many people as possible for future low cost promotions – or given everyone a money off voucher to use in the Summer just to maximise their opportunities of encouraging returns.
Well done South Lakeland Zoo for thinking outside your box. In a recession everyone likes a good deal – and this certainly was one – it just shows there’s always a different way.

Michael Barr’s new book gets a rave review

June 11th, 2010

When you work in marketing for a wonderfully diverse collection of clients as I do, every day is different – and yesterday was certainly more different than most!

I spent the afternoon at Blackpool Zoo where a client Michael Barr was launching his fabulous new book “How to invest better than the average primate”.

The book has already received some fabulous reviews from some industry experts, but we were keen to see exactly what some average primates would think of it – and as you can see they were pretty interested.

lemur

And with such fabulous photographs we are also now finding that the press are very interested – which just goes to show, however good your story is, a good picture always makes it better!

Michael is giving all the profits from his book to UNICEF and MAG International and just a couple of weeks after sales commenced he has already given them £1500. He is now in the second print run so I am sure the charities can expect a lot more over the coming weeks and months.
If you would like to learn more about Michael’s Book or buy a copy and help his charities please visit Michael Barr’s Website.

What should a small business consider when developing a brand?

May 11th, 2010

Last night’s High Street Dreams on BBC2 was a fabulous demonstration of how important a brand can be – even for a small business. It showed candle extraordinaire Jo Malone mentoring two small businesses, pushing them to identify the core values behind their brands, ensuring that these were clearly communicated by their logo and packaging. It wasn’t easy, even with top branding agencies on board, but by identifying and trying to stand true to their core values, two small businesses were able to gain initial distribution with Waitrose and Asda!

Hopefully anyone who has ever been on one of my training courses, or bought a Sharp New Business package would recognise some of the messages delivered by Jo Malone. I spend a lot of time explaining to clients just how important their brand is to business success.

What are the key features of a good logo?

•    It should be memorable – you want potential customers to recognise your brand next time they see it.
•    It should be distinctive – you don’t want people to confuse you with your competitor.
•    It should be descriptive – you want your brand to communicate as much about what you business does and why people should buy from you as it possible can.
•    It should save you money – if your brand says alot about your business – every time it is used it will be advertising on your behalf – and when you are paying for advertising you will need less space as your powerful logo will mean you have to explain less.

What should a small business consider when designing a logo?


•    Try and identify concisely – in a sentence or less what your business is all about (your proposition).
•    Pick a company name which reflects that proposition.
•    Develop a design which adds meaning to the proposition
•    Add a carefully developed strap line which explains more about your proposition.

A good logo will win you business and save you money year after year, so it really is worth spending some time getting it right from day one.

How Important is a Website?

April 26th, 2010

Websites are an extremely important part of the marketing strategy to almost all businesses in this day and age. The first thing we do with most new clients is look at their existing websites and either make recommendations to improve the website or recommend the development of a new site which is structured to provide the information that customers require – moving potential prospects through the buying process towards making a purchase with you.

We do however come across clients who see a good website as the be all and end all of forming a successful business, and 9 times our of 10 this is not going to be the case. If setting up a successful business was as easy as building a good website and sitting back and waiting for the sales to pour in, everybody would be in business and far more people would be successful at running their own businesses.

Having built a good, well structured website you should consider this the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. You now need to work proactively to drive people to your website, to pick up the phone, to visit your shop, to place an order, to recommend you, etc etc etc….

There are very many different ways of achieving this. Building and marketing to a database, optimisation of your website, online advertising, public relations, special offers and promotions, networking, keeping your site up to date and fresh, using social networking, developing and launching new products……. The list is endless and it will be different for every company. 

The important thing is that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your new website will be the begin all and end all of your marketing, and recognise that it is only a tool. That is really what Sharp marketing is all about – advising you on how best to grow your business.

If you would like to talk to us about how best to maximise your marketing strategy please give us a call – why not consider booking a Sharp New Business Consultation or Regular Marketing Mentoring to move your business forwards.

Sue Sharp

A Master Class in SEO

April 20th, 2010

I recently attended a Master Class Training day for Search Engine Optimisations – SEO. The course was excellent and brought me up today in the extremely fast moving world of SEO. It is essential that professionals regularly invest time in following trends and updating SEO skills as things move so fast in this industry!
It was very gratifying to find that I was already very knowledgeable about a large proportion of the course, although I suppose this was not surprising judging on the excellent results we have been achieving for many of our clients recently, particularly focused on local Google searches.
There were however two areas of the course that I found particularly interesting. The first one was the advice about improving the performance in the search engines (particularly Google) for highly competitive markets where optimisation is problematic, by increasing the number of incoming links. We now have a number of tools available to identify which are the best links available to improve the performance of a specific site. We will be trialling these tools over the coming weeks and hope to be able to offer a new linking service in the near future to help improve the performance of difficult to optimise sites.
The second area of the course was looking at detailed strategies to integrate websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter and You Tube to improve a sites exposure and performance with search engines. Many of our clients are already beginning to benefit from these strategies and I will aim to bring you some results in the coming months. In the mean time if anyone would like advice on any element of SEO, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Sharp Marketing Launch their new website

March 30th, 2010


As many of my current clients will know, it has taken me some time to develop and launch this new Sharp Marketing Website!

That is because I have found – just as our clients find – that developing and writing a website for your own business is very difficult. It can be hard to detach yourself from the day to day and be objective about what your business actually does, what it needs and how this should be presented to your customers. This I hope is one of the benefits Sharp Marketing brings to our clients when we build and develop a website for them.

We spend time in in-depth discussions about a clients business, to understand how they operate and what problems or obstacles they are encountering. Then we design and develop their websites to overcome these problems and make recommendations about other marketing activities which can work with the website, to increase the all round business generated for the company.

Well, finally I have completed my new site.  In 5 years of trading as Sharp Marketing I am delighted with how far we have come. I am particularly indebted to the wonderful testimonials that have been provided by many of my clients to help put this website together. My hope is that these will provide a valuable insight to potential customers about what it is like to work with Sharp Marketing and why we believe we are different to many other marketing agencies.
If you haven’t done already, please subscribe to this feed and sign up for our occasional marketing advice update on the website, over the coming months I will be aiming to share simple and valuable marketing advice with you, which could make a real difference to your business.

Sharp New Business aims to give low cost, high value business and marketing advice to new businesses and established small businesses looking for inspiration and growth.

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