Monday, 12 June 2017

Predicting the future

For small businesses to survive, grow and stay ahead of the competition involves knowing the unknown – predicting the future. 

Understanding where you want to be and how to get there is a good, solid strategy, but knowing what the future holds for your industry, your market place and your working practices and planning for those developments is a great strategy.

So how to predict the future...


Understand where changes could occur, what those changes might be and how they will impact your business.

Then plan for it.

But anything could change!

Of course we are not magicians, but we can do some simple wizardry. To understand what might happen, look at:

·  What has happened – spot patterns and trends

·  Read what the experts predict
o   Look at industry forums and check out business forums
o   Look up leading business figures and see what they are saying

·  Visit your main industry expos – see what’s on the horizon

Spot the trends.

When looking for future trends, remember that impacts on your business come from different areas, with the key areas being:
   1.     Industry sector movements
   2.     Changes in your market place
   3.     Customer buying patterns and attitudes
   4.     Technology advancements
   5.     Employees and working trends
   6.     Supply chain

The principle for small business is to focus on what is relevant to you and your business and then identify assess opportunities and risk. You will then be able to develop the right actions to capitalise on opportunities and minimise the impact of risks.

Focus on the future

Once you have a clearer picture of what the future has in-store, make sure you are geared up now with the right strategies. The right marketing tools will be those that work now, and will adapt effectively with change.

Here are some of the key marketing trends:

·  Make the most of smart devices – is your business smart-friendly? Customers are moving to mobile-decision-making

·  Do as you say – be open and honest with your customers and deliver on that

·  Let your customers market you – encourage reviews, get that feedback and make your customers want to spread the positive word

·  Content is the new... content! You can never beat amazing content for capturing attention, inspiring interaction and raising your profile in searches

·  Make social media work for you – interact online the way your customers do

·  Lights, camera, action! – get video happy and captivate your market place

And remember...

The past cannot be changed, but the future is still in your power.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Introducing ‘Marketechnologing’ (Martech for short, but far less fun to try and say!)

Growing a business is about making the right choices and taking advantage of the things that will help you grow. Two examples of this are marketing and technology. Both, independently, create amazing opportunities to springboard growth, but what about if you combine them?

Marketing + Technology=Marketechnologing (and loads of great opportunities!).

It’s part of everyday life.

Technology is a given part of a business’s day-to-day life – operations and communications – and marketing is happening all the time in your business, with or without your direction – every part of your business that interacts with your customers/stakeholders is creating an impression about your business. So harnessing the opportunities they can provide, separately or together, will massively boost your business development.

So this is ‘Marketechnologing’

Marketechnologing is the beautiful blending of marketing and technology and benefitting from the massive opportunities this can bring to your business. And guess what... you are marketechnologing already! Websites, social media, mailchimp, Google analytics, texting, Hootsuite, design tools, planning software, etc.

Understanding technology and how it can really help your business will enable you to market your business even more effectively.

- Your technology effects how you do communicate and how you can communicate with customers – having the best technology to communicate quickly, clearly and effectively is key.

- Customers use technology for more and more of their decision making – smartphones, ratings, reviews, comparisons, etc. So connecting with customers through the technology they use is critical.

- Technology has changed how fast, how far and how targeted your reach can be.

How good is your marketechnologing?

So if your customers are using technology to buy and make decisions, are you using technology effectively to get in front of them? You need to truly understand the technologies you use (smart devices, social media, websites, mailchimp, etc) in order to understand the potential and how to harness the benefits for your business.

Growth will come with great marketechnologing.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What does your brand say about you (and your Squirmlets) behind your back?

You’re creative, so crafting a fantastic brand should be a doddle (or is that a doodle).


Your wonderful creations are a personal testament to your creative ability and your passion. You spend hours carefully stitching detail, moulding intricacies and blending colours. This is about what you want to do and what you want to sell. However, your brand isn’t about you, or even totally about your amazing creations... it’s about your customers and what they want and like.

To show you what I mean, let’s go back to the birth of your creations...

Introducing Squirmlets.

One day you have this wonderful idea and you turn that idea in to (for the purposes of this blog) a ‘Squirmlet’. Now this Squirmlet is soft and squishy and adorably cute. They come in a range of colours and there are ten different characters to collect, each with their own personalised poem about their individual likes and dislikes. Fantastic idea and absolutely perfect for primary school aged children to collect.

So how is a brand going talk about your Squirmlets behind your back?

Well, your brand is how your Squirmlets (and your business) are perceived by others, and most importantly by your target audience (i.e. those mums, dads, aunties, grannies, etc of primary school children, as well as the kids themselves). Your brand literally speaks to your customers, telling them what to expect from you (quick delivery and quality craftsmanship) and your Squirmlets (hours of fun and swapsies with friends).

So how does your brand do this?
  • ·  Through the words and pictures on your flyers and adverts;
  • ·  By the quality of your Squirmlets and how you package and present them;
  • ·  With your Squirmlet (and non-Squirmlet)posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest;  
  • ·  Through your Etsy descriptions, images and price-points;
  • ·  By how your Squirmlet website and online shop look and how easy they are to navigate and purchase from...

Everything that is seen by those mums, dads, kids, etc. is your brand and each one of those elements will create an impression about you and your Squirmlets. So you need to be sure you are creating the right impressions.

So what impression are you creating right now?
·         Is it an honest and representative impression?
·         Is it the right impression?
·         Is it an impression that will interest and entice your customers?

Here’s how to craft a brand that will say the right things (up-front or behind your back!)
   1.       Define your best (and actual) customers. You need to know exactly who your target market is in order to understand the best way to promote to them, with right images, best words and most suitable methods that will grab their attention.

   2.       Know your competition and define how/why you are different. What makes you stand out, and what sets you apart from others offering similar products/services, is what will make customers come to you. Shout about what makes you (and your Squirmlets) special and unique.

   3.       Create the right logo. A single image can convey numerous messages, and these messages are providing your potential customers with their first impressions of your product/service. Creating a first impression only happens once and creating the right impression is vital.
   4.       Set the right tone. People don’t always remember the words and images you use, but they will remember the impression and the feelings they created. So how you say things is just as important as what you are saying. The right words delivered in the right way can influence your customers and persuade them to choose you

   5.       Define your message. Strong, clear and consistent messages are needed across all your promotional and sales activities, in order to sell yourself to your customers... to get their attention and guide their actions.

   6.       Be consistent. Make sure your customers recognise YOU instantly on your website, your Facebook page, your Etsy page, your Eshots, your craft fair signs, etc. So that means the same use of colours, imagery and messages in the same way across everything.

And one final thought for you...
Does your brand whisper sweet reminders when you deliver your products... a branded gift tag, a logo’d sticker on the packaging, a leaflet about your product range inside the package?
Or does your brand sneer and say ‘you can’t find me’ as it hides on a plain white carrier bag, a blank Facebook cover, or a missing strap line?

This was a guest blog I wrote for Today We Craft, a blog helping people who want to take crafting from just a hobby to a profitable business:

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

What a load of blog!

Newsflash! Tesco is blogging about 5 things you can do with a pineapple...... 
OK I'm not sure if they actually are, but
 its the sort of thing that they would blog about. 

What a load of blog!
How blogging can help your business identity.

Guest Blog
Written by Joanna Clark from popular blog 'Today We Craf't

In today's social media culture, nothing is private. Your savvy customers want to know everything about your business so they can make an informed choice about who you are, and if they want to do business with you.  
And that's a good thing! 
A customer that is engaged with your story and your brand is far more likely to buy from you, and more importantly keep buying from you.  
Blogging is about 
strengthening your businesses identity. Creating and sharing content that promotes your businesses core values instills interest in your customers and helps them to trust you. This makes them want to buy from you, because they feel that they know you better than they do your competitors. 
Blogging is the human face on the mechanical business machine. 
I'm not saying that your business is a faceless robot. But if your looking to have hundreds or thousands of customers that could be spread all across the globe, It's difficult for them to really "know you" unless you help them out a little. 
But your blog doesn't need to sound like a teenagers diary entry.
"Dear diary, today I made a sale *happy dance*"
Blogging needs to set the tone of your business. The blog of a legal firm will sound very different to that of a sweet shop. Imagine you are talking to your customers sitting in front of you. What sort of language would you use? How formal would you sound? Is the tone conversational? Frank and to the point? Chatty?

What will it cost you? 
Quite often, nothing. 
If you have a website already then you probably have everything already in place to start blogging. You may want to add a page to your website that you can keep updated and use as a blog. Alternatively you can use a free or very cheap blogging platform and link it to your site.
These are two of the most popular free blogging sites;
 is so simple to use!  
You can create a very professional blog in literally minutes. It looks great, but it costs.  The most basic packages are available for a minimum of £2.50 per month but these are so basic that I'm not sure that you would find them much use for business purposes.  
Their business package means that you can use your own domain name, remove the word "
Wordpress" that would otherwise be plastered all over your blog as well as a host of other benefits.  
But with prices starting at £20.83 per month, (that's a whopping £249.46 a year) you need be sure that your blog is going to be earning you some revenue before you leap in.  
can get a free website or blog through Wordpress. But if you are serious about blogging then I would recommend upgrading to one of the more professional packages. 
If you want to 
monetise your blog or use it as a store/shopping platform for their product then it's great.
This is 
hosted by Google. The advantages to this are that you blog will be fully integrated into your google profile making sharing your content and getting it seen easy peasy. Blogger also includes Google analytics free. So if you like to know where your audience is coming from and what they are looking at, then this is the one for you. 
Blogger is compatible with Google 
Ad-sence, so making money from having ads on your page is as easy as clicking a button. 
It is also 
absolutely free 
The downside it that it is not as user friendly as 
Wordpress. It's also quite complicated to try to set it up as a shop. 
How often do you need to blog?
This entirely depends on your audience. You want to 
keep your content fresh so that your readers have something new to interest them each time they visit.  
Popular blogs with 10,000 readers a day need to update their content every few hours but that's because they have a huge reader base to be kept entertained.  
Blog as often as you think your readers will visit, whether that be once a week or once a month. 
What content should you put into your blog?
Content needs to be;
Part of the reason why you are writing a blog is so that potential customers can get to know and trust you. If you value your businesses integrity (and I'm sure you do) then you will only write about what you know to be factually correct. Giving your opinion is fine so long as you make it clear that's what it is, and so long as that opinion fits into your brand. If in doubt, leave it out.
If what your writing is boring, your customers won't read it. If what you are writing about is 
fundamentally boring (tax legislation for example) then use interesting language and try throwing in a few info-graphics to liven it up a bit. 
If your business is a bouncy castle rental in Ledbury, don't blog about the political situation in Cuba. Leave that for your own Facebook page.
Do however blog about the largest bouncy castle ever made, or link to an article about throwing the best ever kids birthday party (just make sure it recommends bouncy castles). 
Your customers want to be better informed about your business, so inform them! 
Write an article on how your product has helped someone live a better life. Or how your service has helped someone save a ton of money. Your blog is about promoting YOUR business. 
Shareable content is like the 
philosophers stone. One article that hits the right note with your readers can be shared countless times, propelling your business ahead of your competitors. There is no real formula to what makes something go "viral".  
New, innovative content that makes people go "wow, I haven't seen that before! everyone I know needs to see this!" is what makes people press that magic "share" button. 

To find out more about blogging and about Joanna, visit her very popular blog:

Today, We Craft!