5 Steps to relevant, attractive content

attractivecontentIf you read these pages regularly, you’ll know I am a great fan of regular new content on a website. New, relevant content keeps your site interesting and dynamic, which is also good news for Google. This said, writing new content is one of the biggest stumbling blocks faced by most businesses. It is expensive and time consuming to get good quality, relevant content written by someone else. They don’t know your business like you do. Yet when faced with a blank piece of paper (or screen) it can seem impossible for you to think what to write about and even how to write what you want! My normal approach is to try to break the task down into small steps and then tackle them one at a time.

5 Steps to relevant, attractive content

1. Subjects for Attractive Content

You know your business. You talk to your customers and prospects. What are the problems you help them solve? What are the questions they always ask? What are the mistakes people make when making decisions on your products/services? Use your knowledge and expertise to list a few subjects, I suggest only 3 or 4. Try to keep your subjects simple and focussed. If you write a subject that is very broad, try to break it down into a series of simpler elements. This could be the basis of a series of articles – always good news/blog content.

2. Bullet Points

Take a subject and expand on it by writing a few bullet points: What are the key points you want to discuss? Why are they relevant to your target audience? How can you benefit your customers? I normally find 5 or 6 points is about right.

3. Structure

Once you have your bullet points you have the essence of your article the next stage is to think about structure and here, go back to basic story telling. You need:

  • A Beginning
  • A Middle
  • An End

As an example, if you are writing a case study, think in terms of:

  • The problem you faced
  • The solution you delivered
  • The benefits from your solution

Whatever you are writing about, this core structure will give the basis for a complete and coherent article.

 4. Expand your structure

Once you have your structure, it is simply a case of expanding your core words into proper sentences and paragraphs, possibly with additional explanation or examples as appropriate. Aim to keep your article easy to read. Try not to use too much jargon and keep sentences and paragraphs to the point. A good blog post is typically around 4-600 words. If you get carried away and head towards 800-1000 words, maybe you can split into 2 articles? If you find yourself going into a lot of necessary detail, maybe you can do a short version as your article and offer the full version as a ‘White Paper’, downloadable in PDF format? If it has really strong and valuable content maybe you could ask people to register with their email address in return for the download – a great way to build a quality database.

5. So What!

Finally a bit of self-critique with the So What? test.When you have written your article, imagine you are you target customer and re-read the article through their eyes. Is there any point that they might say So What? in response to something you have written? If so you are not showing them any benefit. It is normally quite easy, with a slight re-word, to show how what you are saying can benefit your customer. If you want some help writing attractive content, give me a call

Business Development Platform 3 – Getting Out There#1 – Lead Generation

3. Getting Out There#1 – Lead Generation

leadgenerationSo far in this series we have talked about understanding your business development process and establishing a clear business proposition which demonstrates real benefit you can deliver to your target market. The next step is to actually get out there and do some lead generation. The best business proposition in the world is virtually worthless if you don’t tell anybody, but these days you really need to do more than just hire a sales rep and send them on the road. In part 1 of this series we set out the difference between Selling and Looking for people to sell to. Now is the time we need to recognise this difference and do the right thing….. …..Sales staff should NOT cold call face to face Sales staff are expensive. They should be following up on qualified leads. If you want one person to both sell and look for people to sell to, the division between these two tasks should be clearly defined.

Lead Generation – The essence of SME Marketing?

In this article I review the process of Lead Generation, often seen as the core objective of SME business marketing. Most business owner feel they can sell their products and services if only they can find the people to sell to – the leads! Actually, lead generation is just one (albeit important) part of the business development process, but having an effective approach to finding new business opportunities can form the foundation of a strong business.

So how can we find some leads?

The internet has opened up opportunities to SME businesses but don’t forget that in the world dominated by the web, offline and more traditional communication still has a role to play – and can sometimes have an edge. I’m not going to go into any detail here, but just to give you an idea of the scope of options available to you for getting your message out, let’s look at some tools you can use to find qualified leads for your sales team to follow up.

Media Advertising (Magazine/Press/TV/Radio/Web)

  • Online
  • Offline

The important thing with advertising is to take a medium to long term view. Don’t just place an advert and expect the leads to come flooding. You need to establish a presence in your chosen media over time.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions are expensive. In terms of both time and money they are demanding but the right event can really deliver. The main thing is don’t just think about designing your stand. Think about how you are going to actively use your time at eth exhibition to drive your message and engage with visitors. Also, how are you going to develop all the contacts you make at an exhibition over time once you get back to the office? having a joined-up, sustained process is the key to effective exhibiting.

Direct Marketing

  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media

Probably the most controllable and quickest way of generating new business opportunities, this is where you effectively go and ‘knock on people’s doors’. A strong and attractive proposition can make direct marketing particularly effective, but don’t get too focussed on immediate results. Every contact you make can be a potential customer even if now is not the right time. Use direct marketing to grow your database and build relationships and engagement over the longer term. Joined-up, sustained communication can create a powerful lead generation pipeline

Networking

Lead generation through networking can work well for many businesses but it take up a good deal of time and some of the commercial networking groups can get expensive. I will be looking at networking in more detail in a future article but for now, here are 3 top tips:

  1. Be committed  – networking takes time. Once you find a group that meets your needs, you need to commit to a group for at least 6 months and preferably longer
  2. Not all networking groups are the same – be ready to move away if you don’t like the style of a particular group
  3. Be selfish (at least a bit!) – you will meet some great people while networking but don’t forget your goal is lead generation. If the profile of people in a particular group don’t match your target market, move on – no matter how friendly they are!

Search Marketing

  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Pay Per Click

Just because someone can find your website on Google doesn’t mean they will do business with you. Your website needs to clearly communicate your business proposition and the way you do business, your customer-facing staff, the way you deliver your products/services and the way you work with customers over time are all important. Done properly, these all combine to deliver a very powerful and sustainable business.

Joined-up is good

Don’t see the above in isolation, and don’t feel you need them all. By all means trial different options but ultimately build your preferred tools into a coherent, effective and joined-up lead generation machine. Search or site for more detailed information on all of the above, give us a call Next time we will look at taking our leads an converting them – the Sales Process.

Connecting Office for iPad to Dropbox

chq_logoLast week, we wrote a review of Office for iPad, and highlighted the lack of integration with Dropbox as one of the issues with the new app. Well, I am happy to announce that I have found a work around for this limitation. Although it is not possible to link the office apps directly to Dropbox (cloud integration is limited to Onedrive), it is possible to automatically sync Dropbox and Onedrive using a tool called CloudHQ. CloudHQ is a neat system that allows you to set up synchronisation between a wide range of cloud based storage systems including Dropbox and OneDrive (Both personal and Business). You will find a full list of the cloud storage platforms supported here, along with details of their price plans. The system will continuously monitor Dropbox and Onedrive, and whenever it detects a change it will synchronise the file with other service. The interface is simple & intuitive, and I had key folders synchronising in a matter of minutes. The only real down side is that the free service is VERY limited. allowing only 1 synchronisation relationship and a limit of only 50 files. Also, the free service does not support Onedrive Pro (the Microsoft cloud offering bundled with Office 365). In order to get more complete functionality including support for Onedrive Pro, you will need to sign up for a paid premium plan at $19.90 per month (though they are currently (17 July) offering a discounted rate of $16.90 if you sign up by 30th July!). First impressions suggest it may well plug a gap making it a worthwhile addition to the cloud toolbag, and with a free 15 day trial available it has got to be worth checking out.

Office for iPad is here at last!

office_ipadIf you are an iPad user, and use MS Office on your desktop, then up until now you have had no choice but to find an alternative to Word Excel & Powerpoint when on the move. Whilst there are some great alternatives out the (Apple iWorks, Docs to Go to name 2). If you are looking for consistency then the lack of office on the iPad has always been a sore point (well for me at least). But no more! As earlier this year Microsoft launched Word, Excel and Powerpoint apps for the Apple tablet. But what are they like. On the upside, they look and feel very like their desktop cousins, and if you are used to using office, then the tablet equivalents will feel very familiar. Furthermore they work well with the touch interface. All in all, a good experience when compared to the other Office Apps out there. However, there are a couple of down sides. First, and biggest in my opinion, is the complete lack of support for Dropbox. The cloud connectivity is restricted to SharePoint & OneDrive (Microsoft’s answer to dropbox), but with so many people using Dropbox for their cloud storage, I think that this is a big omission. The second factor may or may not be an issue, depending on whether you are currently signed up to Office 365 (Microsoft’s subscription based office solution). If you are already a 365 subscriber, then the apps are free to download and use, so no problem. If however you are not, you will need to sign up before you can use them as they are exclusively available to 365 subscribers. If you are a heavy user of Microsoft products then 365 makes sense. For about £100 +VAT per year (less than £10/month) you get access to all the latest Office products plus an exchange account for email. Whats more you can install the office software on  multiple devices, so if you use it in the office and at home, both copies are included in the subscription. You will find a more complete review of office for ipad here. You can download the word, excel and powerpoint apps from the iTunes app store. You can also find out more about office 365 here.