SEC Group's How to Market & Present Your SME
The SEC Group is proud to present our guide on How to Market & Present Your SME. Packed full of useful links, ideas and opinions gathered from a number of experts in various fields and industries related to marketing, design and interior decoration. We hope it inspires, informs and helps to develop both you and your business.
For ease of access, you can click on the linked titles in the contents section below to go straight to a specific topic section. So without further ado...
Formula One cars tend to look great when parked in the front reception
~ Just don't park your old faithful there if budgets an issue instead!
How to Market & Present Your SME
1. How To Best Present Your Business
2. Online Presence - Website & SEO
3. Content Marketing Strategy
4. Social Media & Its Many Benefits
One: How To Best Present Your Business
"First impressions leave a lasting impression"
The visual identity of a business is one of its strongest assets. Always look to present the entrance and reception of your business to look fresh and modern; unique to the brand and with a warm and welcoming visitors area. This will show you mean business to both customers and internal staff members.
We even have an infographic guide packed with useful tips and ideas to help give your reception that extra touch. Check it out here: 20 Actionable Ways To Make A Great Impression With Your Office Reception.
A fresh, modern reception design from SEC Interiors for Jai Kudo / Pure Technology
The truth is, it doesn't take much to make something look nice. Sometimes it's just a case of limiting your budget and expanding your imagination. Change the colour of your walls, add in some plants and greenery to reconnect yourself to nature, create some custom furniture from recycled materials (particularly useful for industrial based companies) and add something quirky that will give you something to shout about!
Time to get your interior decorator on Laurence Llewelyn Bowen style! ~ Creative Bloq
~ Bic Biro Office Mural Design, So Creative.Co.UK - 2015
Display your best work for all to see. Got some fantastic testimonials? Projects you're really proud of? Of course you do! So get them blown up into glass mounted wall frames. Display them around your business and spread the positivity!
Add some colour and bring some life back into your business. Of course you can go all whacky and crazy, but if you don't fancy a total brain meltdown then it might be best to consult our guide on Office Colour Psychology to find the best colours to suit your workspace.
Make your business seem appealing by adding refreshments and comfortable furnishings. Not looking to break the bank, then try the likes of Wilkinsons, Dunelms and The Range to find all sorts of affordable artwork, materials and furnishings to give your business an extra ounce of personality.
Need more inspiration? Then check out some of these unique ideas via the image slider below. These will certainly help to fuel your imagination, ensuring you make a first impression that counts!
Images Sourced Via Momoy.Com, Green Turf Asia, Toms Plans.Biz, Design Boom, Net Home Owner, New House of Art, Peldon Rose & CNB Homes - 2015
Two: Online Presence - Website & SEO
"Everyone realistically needs a web presence in the modern age. Just think, when you go to buy or invest in a product where does your first instinct take you?"
Straight to the web more times than not. So what should you look for in a web design company? "You should avoid any company that doesn't offer responsive design as that is an essential tool for making sure your website works well on tablets and smartphones, which are fast becoming the most popular devices to access the web on." says Jessie Lansbury, Website Designer at Fluid Studios Ltd. / BNI Legends Letchworth.
Ryan Davies, SEO Account Executive at Cariad Marketing Ltd also adds that "you'll be in a much better place now if your website is mobile friendly, as Google recently announced that it is demoting non-mobile friendly pages from mobile searches", so it's time to get on the case if your site doesn't work across the board.
No need to be frustrated, just be responsive - Fluid Web Studios Ltd, 2015
So your website may be responsive, but does it look the part? "It's becoming increasingly important to stand out from the competition. When you are looking for a website designer or developer, a large and varied portfolio will speak volumes. If all of their websites look very similar then it is likely they are just customising templates rather than creating something truly bespoke, which means you could end up with a website that doesn't stand out from your competition" says Jessie.
"If your website doesn't stand out, then chances are it's going to be very difficult to get people interested."
So what makes a website stand out? The idea of a professional website "essentially means it has a modern, up-to-date look, professional imagery, clear call-to-actions and clear structure and architecture. Essentially you want to give users the best impression and therefore make them less likely to leave and more likely to enquire. Sure it's great if you're on the first page but if your website looks a mess they're only going to leave anyway" says Ryan.
And another bonus tip from Ryan, "Ensure you have a Google Maps listing as local searches are very useful." Need some help doing this? Then consult Google's Guide to get yourself listed onMaps, Google+ & More...
Get yourself a nice shiny red Google pin to show people where you are in the world - Google Business Listings, 2015
Perhaps your internal team have the appropriate skills to build your own website instead. The guys at Good to Go Safety did, complete with an online e-Store and it turned out great. "We are a relatively small business in many respects, but recently invested a lot of time and effort to revamp our website which our team designed and manage in-house. The ability to offer e-commerce has made a big difference" says Graham Halliday, Product Manager & Online Business Developer at Good to Go Safety
Of course, if you don't have the capability to do this, then the best place to start would be with a platform like WordPress or Wix that offer free to use, customisable templates with optional plugins and plans. Try Website Setup.Org's How to Make a Website to get you started.
Featured website templates - some are free to use, some not so much - WordPress Templates, 2015
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
The next step is SEO (search engine optimisation) Now SEO isn't as scary as it sounds! (We promise) A lot of people look to external agencies to help with this endeavour, but there are some relatively simple practices that can help aid you in your goal of Google domination.
Start by downloading the Yoast plugin tool if your website is WordPress based. Yoast in particular is a useful little tool that will help you fulfill your SEO needs. It'll help you craft an effective title, alt tags and meta descriptions, all essential in helping you get discovered on that big ol' world wide web.
Lost in the jargon? Then try Econsultancy's Dictionary of SEO Words, Terms and Phrases.
To further optimise SEO, try to gain backlinks from trusted sources and websites. These can come from a number of areas. Try your best clients and current collaborators first. Chances are a lot of people with a decent web presence will happily backlink to you for the same in return.
Keep your website responsive and optimised for mobile platforms! Although it's always best to contact a professional web designer, there are some great free tools like WordPress and Yoast that'll help you on your way.
Finally, it goes without saying, but remember to do your SEO! Whenever you publish a new web page, blog, article etc. make sure you fill out it's SEO counterpart. By filling in your SEO you'll enable the various search engines to filter it into the correct search categories. If people can find you, then you might well be in with a shout of serving their business needs.
Need some more info on the SEO process? - Try QuickSprouts Beginner's Guide To Online Marketing, 2015
Three: Content Marketing Strategy
"Content is King!" - Bill Gates
So you’ve upgraded your office interiors to make you look the part. Your websites up and running (hopefully SEO optimized) and acts the part! It’s time to build a content marketing strategy that will bring you customers, get you noticed and also secure you credibility within your industry, making you a go to resource for those who want what you have to offer.
Let's start with blogging, one of the key platforms of 21st century content marketing. When you first look to start a blog it can be quite a daunting process. You might think to yourself, well I’m sure everyone's already written about what I want to say anyhow. Well, that may be true, but your audience hasn't had the benefit of hearing it in your own unique voice yet!
Traditional publicity vs content marketing, We know who's gonna win this fight - Kissmetrics Blog, AttachMedia, 2015
The "first question to ask yourself: do you need to develop a bespoke platform, or should you use an existing platform such as LinkedIn or a Facebook page?” Says Quentin Langley, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations, University of Bedfordshire. A bespoke platform would be the creation of a new, independent WordPress or Blogger page. Quentin however ‘does both: a bespoke blog for specialist questions on crisis and social media and LinkedIn (Pulse) for wider questions.”
He also advises that when it comes to the tone of your content, make sure you appropriately tailor your content to your specified target market. “If you have a niche business, a handful of loyal clients might be better, in which case being outspoken probably helps."
Utilise the LinkedIn Pulse feature to notify your network - Give and take. Make sure you share others content
Bonus Tip: One platform that can be particularly effective for blogging is the LinkedIn Pulse. On your LinkedIn news feed, just click the write a post button and away you go. This will enable you to craft bite size blogs that when published will be pushed out to all your contacts via their notification feeds.
When you start designing your content, make sure you relate it to your industry, but don't be afraid to move away from your sector (or comfort zone). Laurin Bello, Communications Specialist at Inspire Business Centre "says she's constantly thinking about content" and spends "at least two hours" of her "workday for research and content creation, because that's essential for every brand. It makes you stand out in front of your competitors."
Short video’s can be highly rffective for dispersing content - WPRP Pallet Rack, Mini Video Series
Linda Anlauf, Pallet Rack Specialist & Online Marketer at WPRP Pallet Racking feels that "personal blogging and video blogging or 'Vlogging' is an excellent way to get your message out. Its also a great way to stay up to date on the latest industry trends and company brands." Linda and Josh from WPRP run their own weekly video feature, a Vlog titled 'Would You Like Fries With That?" This is a great format for content delivery; short, one minute segments which are both entertaining and informative. Check it out above.
Once you've finished writing/recording your content, think to yourself, if I saw this in someone’s news feed or on a website, would I stop and read/watch it? Reverse the situation and put yourself in your audience's shoes. The more flavour the piece has, the more likely it's going to pick up traction. (“You’ve got one shot do not miss your chance to blow, cos’ opportunity comes once…!”) Come on you know the rest guys…
Diversify your content - Repurpose it across various media - Moz.Com - iPullRank, 2015
Bonus Tip: Rebekah Radice, Digital Marketer & Blogger has some simple but effective ideas on Repurposing your Old Content for Wider Use.
If you're stuck for ideas on what to write/record then try tapping into key trends within your industry and perhaps look at what other influencers are discussing to give you an idea of where to start. You can also check out Sam Hall, a Marketing Blogger at White.Net’s post on ‘How to Find Blogging Inspiration & Twenty Other Blogging Ideas’; a rather useful resource to get you going.
- Get other people involved in your content marketing strategy and blogging efforts. This adds weight and opinion to the subject of discussion. It may also make it more credible, and it doesn't take too much effort to get other professionals involved.
- Don’t be afraid to mix it up! Try converting your posts into a short series of tweets, case studies, info-graphics, video’s, podcasts and more. If you don’t feel you have the skills to design them, then hire affordable freelance talent, or perhaps ask around your current team. You never know who might be willing to have a go.
- If you do get others involved, be sure to provide them with a style guide to ensure they maintain consistency in terms of the presentation and tone of your content. This will keep everything uniform.
Time to get your directors hat on! - Develop short video features to deliver your content in more interesting ways - SEC Interiors TrustFord
Four: Social Media & Its Many Benefits
"Love it or hate it Social Media is here to stay so try to embrace it or be left behind! - Dave Williams"
Social media, once optional is now an integral part of the modern communications strategy. Think of social media as the sticky substance, a glue that allows us to stick our ideas together and share it across the inter webs. You never know who might come across it. It could be your next customer...or it could even be your Nan…
Dave Williams, Business Development Manager of Lewcon Audio Visual Ltd thinks that social media, and particularly "LinkedIn is an extremely powerful way of engaging and enabling you to secure brand new business opportunities rapidly. Gone are the days of making endless cold calls, sending countless faxes and door knocking". Social media is here to stay, and stay it will.
Time to socialise - The many guises of social media - Which platform suits you? - SEC Group Pinterest
So why is it important for businesses to use social media? Well, for this next section we've gathered the opinions of a number of different professionals, and here are their top tips on why they use it, and how to use it effectively...
Brand Awareness, Trends & Hashtags
- Graham Halliday, Good To Go Safety - "Social Media offers us the chance to engage with both existing and potential customers. It offers instant connection, helping us to develop a good audience and establish ourselves as a leading player, both in terms of product and of industry knowledge.
The fact that social media is a free (except for time) route to market is of course a huge bonus, but add to that the opportunity to be seen by a much wider audience and it soon becomes an integral part of your brand awareness programme." - Use social to show people what you do.
- Sarah Robey, Business Development Manager of WhichWarehouse / WhichWarehouse Blog thinks that 'social media platforms are an essential and extremely important method of communication for the company. As an online advertising & marketing platform it is paramount that both individuals and businesses can easily find us across the social media board and that we are accessible to all 24/7. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ have helped us achieve a wider visibility than we would have been capable of previously.
The likes of Skype, Twitter and Facebook provide a gateway to all the continents of the world, otherwise inaccessible to some. How else could we have communication with people all over the globe whilst remaining in one place!" - Utilise social to connect yourself to wider networks.
"Twitter provides quirky and fun posts, whilst LinkedIn is much more technical and serious in the tone of our content." - Graham Halliday
Tough Bench Session? Keep It Light & Fun On Set Platforms - David Lloyd Leisure, Twitter Feed, 2015
- Joshua Smith, Director of Sales & Operations, WPRP Pallet Racking - "Times are changing and so is communication and how we interact with our friends, customers and families; the percentage of grandparents getting on Facebook is growing everyday, imagine that? Now days you use social media for one of my favorites, #hashtags to add to group discussions or trends." - People of all ages use social media these days. Remember not to alienate or overlook set age groups.
Bonus Tip: Mashable has a great Beginners Guide on How To Use Hashtags effectively.
Product Enquiries & Link Building
- Linda Anlauf, WPRP Pallet Racking - I use social media to share information with my customers and to provide a resource when needed. I have been contacted through social media with product questions, quotes and requests." - Use social to show people you know what you’re talking about. Informed, trustworthy and responsive. Be there go to guide.
- Laurin Bello, Inspire Business Centre - "I personally use social media as a source of information and inspiration, and that is why it is so important nowadays for businesses."
"In order to survive in the market, networking is essential in order to create long lasting business relationships. - Laurin Bello”
Testimonials & Feedback
Jessie Lansbury, Fluid Studios Ltd - Social media is "also a useful tool for giving feedback as most companies will respond more quickly to publicly visible comments. Look for a company with good testimonials and an active engagement on social media. This speaks volumes about their customer service and the pride that they take in it" says Jessie." Use social to gather feedback, for better or worse so you can either act and improve on or promote and be proud.
Google+ Reviews, Great for SEO and great for promoting customer trust ~ The Next Web, 2015
Feature your products and services in action; perhaps even feature your customers themselves. It's nice to share others successes and perhaps give them a hand in promoting themselves. You never know how the favour may be returned.
Get your customers feedback and spread the positivity. If possible, get them to head over to your Google+ and Facebook pages to add a full written review and star rating. Good reviews go a long way. Just think, when you're looking to buy a product, what are the kinds of indicators you look for?
Run a competition. Make it fun, accessible and tie it into your brand. Put up a prize up from a local business. Try a platform like #HertsHour, a one hour Twitter event that allows local businesses to promote one another and forge new connections in the process. Events like these are great for getting yourself out there. Above all, just be yourself and the rewards will no doubt follow.
Run a social competition and put up a nice prize | Messy Desk or Tidy Desk? - SEC Interiors Desk Awards, 2015
Phew! We made it! Well some of us might of, kudos to you if you did. It was a long one, we know, but hopefully it served as a nice introductory guide filled with ideas and inspirations that will help you get your SME up and running in no time. On a final note, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the guide, without your great responses this blog could not of been made. Thanks for reading, and if you have any extra tips or advice, feel free to tweet us @SECGroup or contact us on our Facebookor Google+ pages. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.