Posts Tagged ‘SME’

Top tips for killer content

Whenever you spend time writing something – whether it’s a blog post, a newsletter or even a tweet – it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to get a message across, an opportunity to reach out to a dormant client or an opportunity to connect with someone new. Don’t let the opportunity be wasted!

  1. Before you start writing, ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve with this communication? Who am I trying to reach?
  2. When you know who you’re targeting, keep them in mind while you’re writing. You would speak differently to a business contact than you would to your friends and equally you should write differently for students than you would for lawyers, for example.
  3. Start well! We all have busy lives and won’t waste time reading something that doesn’t draw you in.
  4. Please, drop the jargon. It doesn’t make you sound clever – it just isolates the reader. Write clearly and simply.
  5. Make it interesting! If it’s a tweet, will it stand out from thousands of others sent at the same time? If it’s a newsletter article, could you tell your story through an individual to bring it to life?
  6. Keep it concise. Realistically, who is going to read a blog post that goes on for thousands of words?
  7. Break it up. A big chunk of text can be overwhelming and put readers off so use sub headings to make it more digestible.
  8. When you think you’ve finished, read back over it. Then read back over it again. If you send out a professional communication littered with errors, it could have the opposite effect to the one you want.

How to… use Pinterest for business

Social media site Pinterest is the flavour of the month. One glance at the home page and it’s instantly obvious why it has become such a big hit. Its pages are adorned with endless stylish, beautiful images perfect for planning a wedding or kitting out your new house. No doubt it’s lovely to look at, but are there any business applications…?

There seems to be a blog being posted every minute about Pinterest right now and I am a member of the wonderful Let’s Talk Here group on LinkedIn where members have been posting some great articles sharing ideas about using Pinterest for business. I have also used it myself for a brainstorming session at a design agency and found it inspirational. At a recent social media training session I held at a law firm, I mentioned Pinterest purely as a scene setter but the lawyers were full of fabulous ideas about how they could use it.

How does it work?

Pinterest is billed as an ‘online pinboard’. You have to apply to be invited, then once you receive your invitation, set up an account simply by logging in through either your Twitter or Facebook account. Set up as many or as few boards as you like and start pinning! You can choose to either ‘repin’ pictures that other people have posted on there or download the ‘pinmarklet’ to your browser enabling you to pin images from any website you look at (although some, including Flickr, have chosen to opt out for copyright reasons). When you click on an image that is pinned on Pinterest, you can click through to the original website. Pinterest is now driving more traffic to websites than big names including Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Some ideas for using it for your business:

  1. Use it as a showroom – Pinterest seems to have been colonised by crafters early on and they are making great use of it by showcasing their products. Have a peak at Craft Magazine‘s boards to see how they are being used. Photographers can make fantastic use of it in this way too.
  2. Bring your brand and values to life – US company Whole Foods was one of the first to embrace Pinterest and its Pinterest page is packed with tempting imagery of food and also pictures that reflect their values – using organic food and caring for the environment, for example. (See Social media news blog Mashable’s article for more on this). Have a look at how big names including Starbucks and The Guardian are using it.
  3. Use it as a mood board – One of Pinterest’s strongest selling points is the imagery that people are sharing – gorgeous, stylish pictures of interiors, holiday destinations and products they love. When creating a new brand at a design agency last week, the designer and I spent time using Pinterest to inspire us and pin images that worked for the brand. Now we have a great way to visually communicate our ideas to the client.
Check out this article for even more inspiration about how you can use Pinterest.
If you are interested in following my boards, then click here for my Pinterest page.
How are you using Pinterest for your business? I would love to hear some of your ideas!

A tale of two coffee shops

Picture the scene: York station 8.30am Friday 7 October. It’s FREEZING and the unseasonable 29 degrees from earlier in the week is long gone. A steady stream of shivering commuters. Two coffee shops.

The first coffee shop has posters of an ice cool drink trying to entice customers with a slogan using the words ‘summer coolers’. The second has a blackboard outside it with pictures of autumn leaves and the slogan ‘Settle back in’, a picture of a mug of warm frothy coffee and then the words ‘Perfect for right now’.

Which coffee shop would you go into?

I not only went into the second one, I bought the very drink pictured on the blackboard – it looked and sounded too good to turn down.

See how powerful marketing can be? Five days earlier, the temperature had been sky high and I’m sure a ‘summer cooler’ was exactly what everyone wanted. But not that morning and one of the outlets was quick enough to adapt their marketing.

Another example of how this unpredictable weather has caught out a company with their marketing campaign is a flyer I received through the door from a holiday company promising ‘winter warmers’ when it was almost 30 degrees in Yorkshire. I was quite warm enough thanks! The flyer went straight in the bin.

So when you’re planning a marketing campaign, make sure it is relevant not ony to its audience but to the climate in which they will receive it. Be sensitive when you’re offering expensive goods during these difficult economic times. Don’t send a newsletter out to your employees celebrating success if there has just been an unemployment announcement. Every single piece of communication should be targeted – from a newsletter to a blog to a tweet. I wrote this blog on Friday night, for example, but who would read it then? So I held it back to publish on Monday.

If you’re planning a marketing campaign and would like some advice, please drop me an email on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk

The power of professional photography

Importance of professional food photography

Professional food photography makes these pancakes look so appealing (Phillip Shannon Photography)

I have been lucky enough to spend several years working on newsmagazines for companies like Procter & Gamble and Honda, the pages of which were adorned with beautiful, professional images of their employees and their products. For organisations like this, a photography budget is often a given when embarking on a new magazine, brochure or website.

For a smaller company with a limited marketing budget, professional imagery might be lower down on their list of priorities. But in my opinion, it is one of the most important items to spend money on. A company that produces, for example, food or high-end products that they make themselves, should think twice before taking their own pictures. With the best will in the world these pictures often turn out dark and unappealing. And why would someone want to spend their money on a product that looks like that?

If you are planning to send out a press release about your business then sending a professional image with it significantly improves the chances of your story making it into the press. Check out my previous blog post for more about this.

I spoke to Phillip Shannon of Phillip Shannon Photography based in Leeds to find out his opinion.

He said: “Choosing the right person or trade for the job is a rule which most people adopt. When you are running a business, you would hire the right staff, accountant or managers to make sure that the running of your enterprise is economic, successful and, of course, profitable.
 
“When it comes to photography, the ‘image’ of your business, brand and reputation rests upon the quality of the work produced. In times when you may be looking at saving costs, don’t be tempted to go down the DIY photography route. Unless you possess the experience, skill, and equipment of a professional photographer then the result may be far from acceptable. Marketing and promoting your company’s product is all about the visual and how it looks to the potential customer. The power of an image should not be underestimated.
 
“Say you run a food business, for example, and you may use the finest ingredients from local sources, but if the food photography on show to your clients and customers is poor and shots are produced without the skills of an experienced food photographer then the results could be terrible for your business.”
 
Mike Tattersall of Indie Ices, Leeds, is a client of Phillip Shannon Photography. He said: “Working with Phillip to produce the images of my product is always money well spent. You receive the great skill of a professional which reflects in the images produced. I often receive great comments on the images and, as people eat with their eyes, I get sales and leads into companies when we produce them.”
 
So, from a client’s perspective, the costs associated with buying commercial photography is an investment in the future success of your business. The results achieved by using a skilled professional photographer with the right experience is money well spent, and can produce real, measurable results.
 
Why not get in touch with a photographer, chat through your brief and at least find out how much the charge would be? It may well be less than you think and, in my opinion, the question you should be asking yourself is: “Can I afford not to use professional photography?”.
 
For more information about Phillip Shannon Photography, visit http://www.phillipshannonphotography.com/ 

Never underestimate the power of words

Jenny (right), the girls, babies and their GUMIGEMs

I’m proud to welcome Jenny McLaughlan of GUMIGEM, the original UK teething necklace. Jenny has written a fascinating guest blog about the importance of communication for a small business.

As a new business with limited finance to spend on advertisements, I rely heavily on the use of social media, editorials and the content of my site to get my message heard. It is only since discovering Words by Fiona Kyle I have finally recognised the value in taking time and thought around this area. I know it sounds daft, of course you should be careful and thoughtful about what and how you communicate, but as a small enterprise it can be a real struggle. With so many things to juggle, you just tweet, post, update your site and send emails without really considering what they are saying!

One challenge is that you think as you write and although you’re sending out the right message and informing people about your products, sometimes when you have a product and a business that you know inside out, your communications have a certain level of assumed knowledge in them without even realising you’re doing it. So when you think you’re being clear about how to enter a competition or indeed certain key points about your product, it is vital to get another pair of eyes to have a look. They don’t have that same insider knowledge and can quickly assess and identify gaps in your communication. An example I would give of this is my first ever batch of flyers which had the words ‘for mum to wear…. and baby to enjoy!’ What does that mean? Well to me it made sense, but in actual fact to everybody else it did not! It did not tell anyone what the product actually was.

Social media has been the main source of attracting customers to my site, and this too needs careful thought. On Twitter you are limited to just 140 characters, something I personally find so difficult as I always have a lot to say! So how do you get something that is punchy but also interesting? The aim is to engage people and encourage them to follow you, visit your site and ideally become a customer. That’s a lot to achieve in just 140 characters. Talk too much about your own business and you put people off, focus on more personal issues and you don’t get them making a trip to your site. So getting the balance right is key and this is something I am still learning about! The way we do business is changing as technology advances. This has many advantages as it frees up our time as we are able to engage and reach customers far faster than the traditional way of having to seek out face to face engagements. The disadvantage is that the words we choose and how we communicate, just like first impressions, last. They build up your personality and send people a message about who you are and what you are about. So never underestimate the power of words.

For me I am very guilty of being rushed, this means you don’t pay as much attention to the detail as you should. Newsletters with spelling mistakes and poor grammar just send out the wrong message and can look so unprofessional. Another reason for just taking a step back once in a while and asking for someone to give it the once over, it may be frustrating you have to wait another day to get that exciting newsletter out there, but then at least it’s right, looks professional and will have more impact.

It’s a learning curve and like all things in life, we won’t get it right all of the time. Some people like Coke and others Pepsi, some will like your chosen style of communication, others won’t. But as a business you want to aim for communication that has interest, impact and is heard and not drowned out by all the other tweets, posts and websites out there. So my lesson and one I am still very much learning is that what we say and how we say it is as important to a business as the products we sell. Without the right words and communication, we won’t succeed.

Thanks so much Jenny for your guest blog and a really interesting insight into getting your message heard as a new, small business. For more information about GUMIGEM visit http://www.gumigem.co.uk or email sales@gumigem.co.uk

If you want to chat about how to get your message out there, please drop me a line on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk