Inventory Management and the web

Well, it has been a busy old week, all spent working on the preparation for logging a collection of Regency, Victorian and Georgian Cast Iron patterns.

My current consultancy role sees me working for Britannia Architectural Metalwork,

Britannia-Architectural-Metalwork-Restoration-logowho are the proud owners of one of the largest collections of patterns. Covering; Balustrades, Railings, Finials, Newal Posts, etc.

The first task is to collate these into a company wide database, re-catalogue them all, and here’s the exciting bit, build a solution to monitor, update their movement and development.
Working with some colleagues at Invent Partners, I have decided to instigate a web-based solution, which will have future uses in terms of sales and marketing.

database process

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enThralled is back

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Are you ready to be enThralled? 

 

After an hiatus, I am proud to back with a slightly different focus. enThralled Consultancy has decided to focus on small and medium sized businesses and their commercial successes. This focus is aligned perfectly with my and my partners expertise over the past 25 years: sales funnel and lead generation management, sales management, commercial tenders and the overarching marketing.

 

So, I will be posting a mixed array; some thought leadership, some stuff we just love and interest us. I hope you enjoy

 

enThralledc

 MRT

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Online means change for high street brands

While Arcadia continues its store opening programme around the world, the increase in sales online is prompting a downsizing and upgrade to its store!. 

Sir Philip Green, founder and chief executive of Arcadia Group, told delegates  at the World Retail Congress in Paris : “There are so many channels that people get bombarded. How many shops we need and what they look like is a challenge. People’s shopping habits are changing…we’re over-shopped.”

Stating that his 2,400 stores in the UK is too many. “We’ve an opportunity to downsize and we need to re-shape the model:.  We’ll take three out and put two back in – probably bigger. We want to have the best representation [of our brands] in towns. And there is no option but to invest in and upgrade our bricks and mortar.” This reinforces the opinion of me and many of my colleagues that Stores are the vital ingredient in a successful multichannel strategy.

Sir Phillip continued; citing the group’s overseas expansion as the ideal model for multi-channel representation. The company is online in 100 countries and this is being complemented by the opening of strategically placed flagship stores. He finished with the thought that the key to successful retailing despite the explosion in channels it remains creativity and uniqueness of product that is the most important element for success. Stores will need to adopt and change, they’ll need to cater for all the different type of shoppers: browsers, click and collectors, experience seekers, and retail junkies.

I would say product is king and it’ll remain the main reason why consumers will engage and ultimately shop with a brand. Though, it’s important to appreciate their journey and it’s multiple touch points. Ensuring consistency of experience, service and choice are delivered throughout.

That’s where technology will help with the key deliverable: e-commerce not only online but in stores, loyalty programmes and experience enabling technologies. That will all combine to give your customers the experience and service level they are needing and requiring.

 

 

Damn lies and statistics

A much wiser man that I, once said that statistic and lies go together perfectly. It’s true to a degree; all statistics can be twisted, turned to favour your slant on a story. However, statistics are also vital for us marketers in analysing trend and insights.

So, the Econsultancy yearly report on Internet Statistic is a really useful compendium.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/internet-statistics-compendium

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Ways to make your readers love your emails.

Love is? Receiving your email.

Are your emails killing your customer relationships?

It has never been more important to interact with our customers pro-actively. Social media and the whole digital universe has meant more and more ways for your customers to be lost to competitors or simply lose faith in your brand. One of the main culprits has been number of poor emails that have been used as the main-contact strategy by companies.

Over the years, while I have been working as a marketing / business consult. I have seen first-hand these mistake and the damage their are doing to your brand. So, I thought I better try and point some of these mistake and importantly, ways to make email communications stand out and create readership within your audiences.  So let’s start and work our way down the email from the top. I won’t discuss subject lines in this post has I have already written about what makes a good subject line and the tactics, you will need to employ. 

So let’s get started. 

  • Space – Isn’t the final frontier!

How many time am I hit from the very opening of the email with too much information / images / anything but what is needed, SPACE. A lot of you will understand the white-space rule in advertising and design. But this isn’t always carried forward into the email arena. Give your recipients a chance to understand your; message, offer and proposition. Make it clean and crisp.

It isn’t about the number of words per paragraph or ho many images. Less is More!   

  • Give them a phone number!

The tendency is to always think that you medium you send a communication piece is the same as your customer will respond, and it simple isn’t true. I have been in digital marketing for over 15 years, and on my initial interactions with a business, I still want to speak to a real person. People feel reassured and evidence shows us, that they are more likely to interact with your brand if you provide clear and distinct contact details on the top of your emails.

So, you have supplied that all important phone number in my opinion. The key then is to ensure that inbound leads are dealt with efficiently and effectively.  I always recommend setting up KPI’s and SLA’s for this type of actively. Ideally, you want to measure the following; where did the lead generate?, what did the prospect / customer want, what was the outcome? NB: I like to study the negative outcomes just as much as the positive outcomes. Where did you lose the enquiry, what was the honest feedback from the customer / prospect to the call, email, dealings with your business etc. 

  • Copy is king! 

It seems that everywhere we turn right now, everyone is talking about content and how this is the most important element to a successful marketing campaign. The problem for smaller businesses is generating good and addictive content. The better ways is to ensure your copy within the email is personable and relevant. The copy should also be warm and friendly. It should invite the recipient into your world, easily. Example. We all seen how Lastminute.com use email to sell their breaks and holidays, engaging images and great descriptions of the location, hotel. It makes you feel part of it, and drives interaction and longing.

Remember, write it from you! Bring your personality or your brand personality out in the email copy.

If you have a professional service to sell, then fun and livery copy isn’t probably the best tone, but it should still be warm, friendly and sound as if it came from a real person.

Tell a story on how your product or service will help solve your audiences problem / issue. Make it relevant too. If you known your customers then build in key information into that email. But not just add data field. It’s so inhuman…

It make your customer feel appreciated and wanted. That’s why we build up data on customers, not for some big-brother conspiracy but to use creatively and sincerely. As I said be creative and be human in how you write the copy. If you were selling hotel rooms to a customer who you knows visits a certain city regularly, then what not say say “it’s better than crashing on your mate’s sofa”.

Referrals and advocacy 

We should be all aware of the power and influence that your existing can have over prospects. Nothing is quite like a referral from a real person, who loves your brand. I always recommend building in a reference into your email copy. So, you should be writing your copy with the principles set out above. However, one of the most fundamental principles that isn’t always adhered to is; features and benefits, and how to use them correctly.

So, let’s quickly recap. Features don’t sell, Benefits do! And that is how you should be using recommendations, selling benefits. Build that referral into why your product / service will benefit your readers life.

  • Strong Call to Actions 

    This isn’t always about a well written call to action, in fact I would recommend a simply visual call to action button, like the example below.

     

     

     

    Hubspot, know how to maximise their emails to generate the most amount of click-throughs, respondents with clean, visual call to actions. Their practice simply feature and benefits, they tell me why I should engage with the email and what I can expect as a result.

    These few tips should act as the foundation for your email marketing, they will help with the structure, copy and content and that all important engagement. Good email marketing takes effort and understanding about your customers and why they use your products or services.

     

    enThralled Agency are a leading Lead Generation agency, specialising in helping small businesses grow their business through cost effective and pro-active solutions. www.enthralled.biz

     

     

     

Social Media site that small businesses have probably are not using and reasons why they should!


Social Media site that small businesses have probably are not using and reasons why they should! 

We have all heard about the main social media sites but that is only portion of the sites that can help you build your social media presence.

That is because some of the lesser-known sites are not promoted like, Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIn attract  a wide range of users, that it’s easy businesses owners and  marketers alike to simply concentrate on these popular sites. Truth be told, there are hundreds of other, niche social networks on the web that, depending on your particular audience or your goals, can also be well worth you investing time and money in growing presence following there.

Niche social sites are a valuable tool for a business, especially if these sites are for spe

cifics; events, eco-issues etc. The great thing about niche social networks is that they take the step of targeting and segmentation out of the marketer’s job!And we all know how much more effective your marketing can be when segmentation is involved, right? Therefore, here are five niche social sites that enThralled love.

1) Quora – often a forgotten social network, but it’s also one of the most valuable. Quora provides answers to almost any question you can think of. From questions about marketing to questions about coding, Quora provides a great resource to both users looking for answers, and marketers seeking to position themselves as thought leaders.

How Can You Use This Site?

Ask questions about your industry to collect direct insights into what your audience is thinking.

Answer questions about your company, industry, or even competitors. This will help you position yourself and your company as a thought leader. (Note: Disclose what company you’re from for t

he sake of transparency — and credibility!)

When possible, provide links to resources such as blog articles that help to answer users’ questions.

Network and connect with other businesses owners / managers on the network to see what is or isn’t working for them.

2) Meetup – Attending and planning events is an important part of any business life. Meetup makes this responsibility easi

er for almost every industry. Whether you’re hosting or looking to attend an event then Meetup provides a centralised network with information on the events happening in your area. If you need or want to reach, a particular industry can immediately identify the right events and connect with attendees even before they attend.

Be st way to use Meetup!

Identify relevant industry events to attend.

Publicise your own events and attract more attendees by industry or geography.

3) Care2

The trend toward “going green” isn’t exactly breaking, but it has caused an uptick in many marketers making sure their marketing campaigns use environmentally friendly processes. The social network, Care2, popped up as people came together to discuss this eco-friendly type of lifestyle and educate others about it. And more and more, marketers need to use these practices in everything they do to cater to this growing audience. By participating in this social network, marketers can educate themselves about the ways they can implement eco-friendly tactics into their marketing strategies.

How to best use this site?

Research, research, research! Implementing green strategies into your marketing isn’t easy. Learn what others are doing.

Talk to people in this community, and see what they really care about. What topics matter most? Is your marketing aligned?

Does your company sell products/services that cater to eco-friendly users? Then you’re golden! Research what eco-friendly issues are prevalent among your audience to inform your content creation, marketing, and product decisions to the  audience.

By enThralled Agency – the leading Lead Generation Agency for Small Businesses.

http://www.enthralled.biz

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How Social Media can help a small business grow a proactive

email database

Introduce:

In today’s opt-in world getting the right data especially email can seem overbearing, frustrating and at time costly.  So what is a small business to do? We know the answer isn’t simply to stop email lead generation. That’s why it is so important to utilise and link your other sales and marketing activity to grow that opt-in, robust and pro-active database.

 

So here is how you can use social media in a number of ways to ensure your are capturing those all-important email addresses.

 

  1. Link to a Call to Action:

Instead of simply adding a general web page, try a dedicated ‘Call to Action’ page.  This tactic will get far more interaction than a simple homepage landing.

 

You could even try a dedicated micro-page dedicated to say Twitter. Try a offer or at least a common thread from the social media post / blog that the link come from.

 

It will show relevance and your audience will feel more secure in sharing their details with this type of relevance.

 

Try using proper links instead of short link codes; they seem so impersonal and non-trustworthy in the first instance. I appreciate this isn’t always the case but if you have a work related blog then say using enthralledagency/wordpress makes people feel more associated with you and therefore easy with you.

 

  1. Freebies!

 

Cloud: flood and other such tools give you the chance to give away something for a tweet! Okay, this might not seem much but if you can offer advice or thought leadership, these are certainly great ways to gain trust and build that database of followers / addresses.

 

For example: enThralled offer a free audit on lead generation to companies. Yes it takes time on our part but it also builds relationships and trust in you and your business and in today’s economic landscape, it is two very powerful allies to have!

 

So by using these tools to share a link they get free content and you get that all important first stage relationship.

 

  1. Sound bites and other tweet able content

Generating quotes is a really useful way of getting retweeted. So what are the secrets and tools? Well, firstly use your newsletter page or news feed page for quotes and simply add a ‘click to tweet’ action button. One of the secrets here is to make the quote relevant and timely and not all about you, think sanity not vanity.

 

By building in these simple but useful tips you will be able to get opted-in addresses.

 

 

About:

enThralled Agency has been helping small business with their Lead – Generation for many years, offering robust and pro-active solutions tailored to your needs.

 

Sales & Marketing Buffet – the new ways to build your business with a flat fee for all the sales and marketing you can use.

Social media should be woven into the the very fabric of your database marketing

Social Media Followers Should Be a Part of Your Marketing Database

The majority of businesses whether large or small nowadays have a sales and marketing database. This database forms for many the very lifeblood of their business. It is the key to building relationships with key audiences and customers alike! But are businesses missing a vital ingredient and not incorporating social media information into their database? And from that Social Media insight and information the key information into the rest of your marketing efforts and overall strategy?

As a marketer, your strongest asset is your database of contacts: email and blog subscribers, leads, customers, and brand advocates . It’s the entire spectrum of your brand’s stakeholders. It’s the overall community of people who care about you in some form, regardless of how minuscule or extensive that care is. Your marketing database is the key component of your marketing — it’s the people you contact for every aspect of business. Interviewing fans. Converting leads. Contacting customers. Everything. And you know who has become an essential part of this list? Your social media followers. By using one unified marketing database, you can add a layer of social media insights to your existing contacts, thus gaining valuable information to target messages, nurture leads, and attract new contacts to your business. Now how do you actually do this?

Think of Your Social Media Database Like Your Email Database

Your email database consists of contacts who have subscribed to receive email communication from you. They have opted in to receive your marketing resources, announcements and promotions, and (if your email list is healthy) should be interacting with your content by opening, clicking, and forwarding these emails. Your social media database works in a similar fashion. It consists of followers and fans who want to engage with your brand online. They’re retweeting, resharing, and repinning your posts. Clearly, they have an interest in the things that you are saying and the product(s)/service(s) you have to offer.

In this context, the interests and actions of your email recipients and social followers overlap. The act of opting in to receive email updates from a company is very similar to, for instance, hitting the ‘Like’ button on a Facebook Page. The future of social media and the key to expanding the size of your marketing database is contingent upon the growth of your social media database. The more followers you attract, the larger your pool of people to turn into strong advocates of your brand. And boy does this open a whole new bucket of opportunities for your marketing as a whole!

Example Use Cases of This New Social Future

1) Share the Right Content With the Right People

The problem with followers in social media is that you cannot measure the extent to which these fans are actually engaging with your brand. You don’t know the specific people interacting with your updates. Allocate a few hours weekly to discovering these people. Look at who is retweeting and commenting on your content, and cross-reference that with your contacts database. HubSpot allows you to do this automatically. Our new Social Contacts tool allows you to click on any social message you’ve sent and see exactly who clicked and/or shared it. (You can even dig deeper and explore the number of leads and customers that resulted from that effort.)

Now, instead of sending mass email blasts, you can directly contact and nurture those leads who are actually interacting with your brand. And by interacting with them, you’re using their social media following to help extend your brand to a new audience. This constant, positive, and targeted sharing of information will ultimately help grow your pool of evangelists, which will ultimately help you in other areas of your marketing.

2) Send Product- or Service-Oriented Emails

When it comes to email marketing, your boss most likely wants you to send communication about your product or service. Meanwhile, as a marketer, you likely want to email broader lead generation content in order to boost engagement. Fear not — there is balance between the two, and it comes down to segmentation. When you monitor the people who engage with your social media content, separate them into groups and allow those interested in your product/service to receive more communication about your special deals. Of course, make sure these users have already opted in to receive email communication from your company.

One seamless way to do this is by using the HubSpot-HootSuite integration app. You can use the app to see which contacts from your database are talking on social media, and then send them customized email communications after seeing that they’re further down the marketing funnel.

3) Use Social Media Lead Intelligence in Sales Calls

Marketers are increasingly invested in social media: According to Social Media Examiner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 59% of marketers report spending six hours or more on it weekly. But they’re still struggling to find a reliable way to use social to boost sales. It’s simple: use social media information to personalize calls. Examine the difference between these two phone calls:

“Hi Anum, I noticed you work in HubSpot’s marketing department and thought you might be interested in learning about how our product that helps you do better marketing. When is a good time to chat?”

vs.

“Hi Anum, Thanks for sharing our latest ebook on Twitter! We really appreciate the support. Did you enjoy the read? Do you have any questions still lingering after checking out our content, and if so, could I help clarify or provide further assistance?”

The first call sounds like an average lukewarm call: when the sales rep has some information about the prospect they are calling, but not enough to start a meaningful conversation. The second call scripted in the role play is much more personalized and helpful. It shows that the salesperson isn’t just calling out of the blue. There is a clear reason, backed up by a clear action, and followed up with a clear benefit to the lead. Such is the power of social media intelligence in the sales process!

Now that you’ve learned why social following is critical in building up your marketing database and have seen some powerful examples of using social lead intelligence to follow up with leads in the sales process, it’s time to embrace the next generation of social media marketing. The social media sphere is constantly changing, and by figuring out how to effectively use social media and being on the front edge of how these channels will be used, you’ll find success on social channels before your competitors get around to finally investing time.

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Local marketing and initiatives through social media.

Localised marketing for small businesses

Bristol has created it own currency and already there is a waiting list for local shops and retailers to join the scheme. The idea which came from Germany, seems a perfect antidote to big business and linked with other digital ideas, it gives the the local small business the opportunity to communicate with their local audience, build loyalty and drive their sales pipeline effectively.

This got me thinking, are localised marketing initiatives the future? In an earlier article, enThralled discussed Localised Marketing Services (LMS) and how they could drive that all important footfall to your business locally. So ideas like exchange currency and localised marketing solution seem perfectly aligned for the small business.

Many social media marketing strategies are based upon the amount of fans or followers as well as the engagement levels that these followers to your business generate to your business. A superb way of creating this all important engagement and how this engagement at the local level win drive greater interaction with your business and ultimately increase sales. So how can small businesses use local sales and marketing ideas to grow their bottom line?

1) Utilising LMS via social media and mobile devices, customers can and should be using the check-in’s features to promote and distinguish your business. As we said in the previous blog, customers should be encouraged to use this type of service though loyalty programs. Tie LMS check-in’s with the idea of a localised currency and suddenly you have a great cominbination that dovetails eachother perfectly. If for example your local butcher purchases his meat from a local farm and promotes this via his website and social media. That will build localised awareness. Then, you come along and buy your meat and check-in via your mobile device.

2) This localised approach, integrating the physical and digital economy which enable small businesses to participate across multi-channel marketing. So what ideas can a local retailer implement to drive greater interaction?

3) Offering a gift card / voucher each month to a fan / follower based locally would certainly builds awareness, create interaction and importantly engagement with your local fan base and keeps them coming back every month. Though, make it worthwhile, £20 may not be enough if your products or services are of a greater value. Think what would make a difference to one of your followers and give them this!

4) Competitions are also a perfect way to drive interaction and engagement, make it relevant to your business or local area.

5) Get involved and drive engagement through Poll’s. Ask your audience their local news and their daily life or habits locally. Remember, don’t be direct and make sure the polls that do not directly relate to your business and make them interesting enough to make people get involved. Local issues and daily activities are perfect examples of poll’s and this type of digital interactive usually draws high proportions of respondents.

6) Start a photo, video or blog contest. Ask your audience to submit content from the local area and even that shows them using your products or services. Then choose the best content and then feature and promote it. This will create brand advocates locally and position you in the all important ‘share of mind’ ladder. This type of content sharing is perfect for engagement with the your local fans and followers, it builds loyalty and a sense of participation too with your business.

7) Sponsorships are also a great way to driving awareness of your business. Try and find local bloggers or blogs dedicated to your local area and look at sponsorship. This isn’t about product placement or endorsement of your business. This is once again about winning share of mind locally and create that brand awareness

Getting your social media right…

lot of people are wondering and asking if Social Media and their traditional marketing channels can or should even work hand in hand or should they to be kept apart?

Well, what do we know? Certainly social business is a different way of doing business that is for sure. It doesn’t play by the same rules as say advertising and it has the potential to affect the entire organization, from stakeholder to customer. But that isn’t a reason to run to the hills. In fact it might the reason to raise to the challenge and develop a Social Marketing campaign.

Potentially all those stakeholders now have easy access to platforms that can amplify their voices. It’s important to empower stakeholders so their voices will contribute to the success of your business and make them / utilise them as Brand Advocates . However, if you fail to understand and act accordingl you can make serious mistakes.

  • Facts & Figures:51% of Facebook users and 64% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from the brands they follow. (Source: Social Media Examiner) Consequences of this magnitude ought to be enough motivation to be serious about avoiding the common pitfalls

    So how can you make sure that you are utilising social media properly and don’t make those huge mistakes.

1. Lack of a Strategy or Plan

Most of the time social is introduced into marketing as a tactic. Usually an executive will either ask a question “Why aren’t we on Twiiter  Or “We need to be on ?,“ when most likely the underlying motive is really “we need to be on this platform because our competition is or everyone else is”. This reminds me of the mid 90’s and the phase where a lot of small / medium sized businesses ploughed head first into website and e-commence without one moment of thought or planning. Ask yourself; WHY – WHOM – WHEN – WHERE. 

It’s getting bigger and more diverse with each day.

Not having a plan / strategy is going to cost you in a variety of ways: Tactical approach suggests that social is simply another channel to be exploited; it’s often viewed as free marketing and handed over to the office junior. In fact only recently one of my most respected marketing colleges said the same… or updates and posts are added as a can not most do. Instead of well-planned and coordinated messages, customers are assaulted with a barrage of disjointed messages that don’t dovetail into the sales pipeline and the businesses over-arching strategy.

So apply some old fashion logic and “think before you speak,” jumping on the bandwagon “because everyone’s doing it,” can get you into trouble if you’re not intentional about having a plan first. & Importantly Two ears, one mouth. 

What I mean is read and take note of the conversations taking place about your business both good and bad and react properly, timely and thoughtfully. 

2. Broadcasting – Too much talking not enough listening

The traditional advertising model, sending messages to create brand awareness, hasn’t worked in the social marketing arena.  You need to engage and interest your audience in this arena; Recent statics reveal the 3 most important reasons small businesses leverage social media are:

  • Connecting with customers
  • Visibility
  • Self-promotion

It’s important that businesses focus on connecting with customers, make them feel special and wanted by you. Because if you can connect with prospects / customers by offering helpful solutions / advice  / insights you will be able to WIN SHARE OF MIND and that leads to SHARE OF WALLET. 

3. No one’s home

No posts, no responses, no activity whatsoever. An obvious risk is consumers will dismiss your brand as irrelevant and seek a competitor; equally concerning, this kind of presence leaves a company vulnerable to negative comments or customer’s expecting answers and being frustrated.

Take why the social marketing strategy has to be thought out and implemented properly. Don’t leave it to the junior in the office to post on her way home! Make integral to your sales and marketing plan and see where each post / blog fits along the sales pipeline.

Almost 60% of people worldwide say they expect brands to respond to social media comments regarding service at least most of the time, according to a new report. (Source: Mashable)

All it all it might seem too much, too difficult but with a little understanding and patience, Social Media marketing can make a massive difference to your bottom Line. 

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