FREE LinkedIn Masterclass for pre-start and new businesses

We’re delighted to let you know that Bell Branding will present a FREE class on LinkedIn How To’s on Tuesday 29th July in York, hosted by Business Support York and North Yorkshire.

Places are very limited, so if you’d like to book on please call the number on the poster below!

Bell Branding hosts LinkedIn masterclass-page-001

If you are unable to make this event but would be interested in learning more about how LinkedIn and social media can boost your sales and reputation, please do give us a call on 01904 593 124 or email info@bellbranding.com for details on how we can help.

Even small business should outsource

But we don’t have the money! We can hear you cry. But take it from us – even small businesses can benefit in the long term from outsourcing. Here’s why:

Time is money

You know that: we shouldn’t really have to say it. But every moment spent away from your daily tasks – such as generating sales leads, speaking with clients and customers, and managing back office admin – can feel like a moment wasted. If marketing isn’t your forte, it can be a painstaking task to keep on top of even the basics. Do you really have time to blog weekly, talk on Twitter every day, proof that brochure again, or try to teach yourself InDesign just to make a flyer?

You’re not an expert

Well, of course you are. But only in what your business does. We don’t claim to be brilliant at financial advice, nor could we handle large volumes of calls to customer service. But by gosh, can our team write, design, film to the very best standards – because that is what they do all day, every day. Focus on what you can do, and delegate the rest for maximum efficiency.

Can you see the wood for the trees?

Can you see the wood for the trees?

Are you just staring at trees?

Or can you see the wood right in front of you? Being close to your business means it can be easy to get tangled up in the small details. Bringing fresh eyes to a project can help you see how potential clients and customers view your business – and it may not be as you thought.

Avoid costly mistakes

Much like new eyes on a project, if you’re proofing that promotional literature for the gazillionth time, mistakes can be easy to miss – especially if your grammar or spelling isn’t as tip-top as you’d like. Brand reputation is built on the quality of your material – easily avoided errors such as spelling mistakes on flyers can make all the difference between gaining custom and losing the respect of possible clients. Reprinting material is expensive, time-consuming and wasteful, too – you don’t really want to do that, right?

Time saved + high quality as standard + expert input = money in your pocket

Paying someone who knows what they’re doing benefits you by providing business support and bringing new ideas to spruce up your marketing activities. More than that, though, is the return on the output. Investing a little to get something done properly the first time means you can build on a solid reputation, build brand trust, and show people that your business knows its stuff. Just like we do.


 

Bell Branding supports small independent businesses to deliver online marketing strategies, including blog copy, website content, social media engagement and integrated marketing campaigns. We do all this with the challenges of small business in mind – keeping our overheads as low as possible to pass these savings onto other startups and new enterprises. If you’d like to talk to us, well – you know where we are.

Rich content = rich business (Or, The Art Of Blogging)

 

Typing on laptop

You need to switch it on first…
Image courtesy of tidybay.com

You’ll already know what a blog is. You’re reading one right now. So we won’t patronise you with the usual bumpf about the technical aspects.

We’re going to look at how to use a blog as a cost-effective tool for your business, and how to generate sales leads from good content. We can’t give away all of our secrets, of course – just most of them.

Keep to schedule

Ensuring regular traffic means keeping your blog updated – maybe once a week, twice a week – however many times is suitable for your business. However, over-posting – posting because you think you have to, rather than because you have something to say – can damage your readership just as much as lapsed posting.

Avoid posting irrelevant content, and keep it fresh and interesting, by creating an editorial schedule a few months in advance.

Strong content compels readers to return

Quality is key – your content should represent your business vision, and demonstrate your industry knowledge.  If you only use your posts as an extension of direct marketing or to adapt print advertising, you’re doing it wrong.

Provide value: invite industry leaders for an interview, or provide insight into new trends to show your audience that you know your stuff. All of this builds brand trust which, as we already know, is a Very Important Thing.

Keep it short

Any blog above about 800 words is too long. Ideally, you should vary the length of your blogs to between 400-550 words, with the occasional longer post for in-depth content and discussion. Just as visual media needs to be attention grabbing, blogs need to hold all of the information in an engaging and to-the-point way.

Another tip is to break it up: use short sentences, sub headers, numbered lists or graphics to make it easy to read. Consider the devices your blog will be read on – just a PC, a laptop, a tablet, a mobile phone? Make sure it covers all of these devices in a readable format to encourage people to get to the end.

Link back

Remember – a blog is an indirect sales tool. Use other industry sources to back up your statistics, or link to other companies in your field who you think provide good examples to illustrate your point. Working with others is a positive in today’s connected world, so make the most of it by seeing the competition as allies instead of enemies. Build trust in your industry as people who know your stuff, and the respect earned from other companies will translate into brand reputation.

Show that you value your customers 

Letting people comment on blog posts will give you more of an idea which content they are most interested in, generate discussion on industry topics you could use for future posts, or show you what they want to see from you. Encourage customers to comment with a call to action at the end of each post – a question or asking for comments (it really is that simple).

Use metrics

There are many tools out there which will tell you how your blog is being viewed. These analytical tools are great for finding out which posts are most shared, most viewed, most commented etc. You can discover the best times of day to put up a post, and which platforms are the biggest referrers (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc). Doing these all together will make a huge difference to your traffic and provide a much larger pool from which to generate warmer sales leads.

Get it done

Blogs and editorial calendars can take up quite a bit of time. Sourcing the content, finding relevant links, writing drafts, proofing drafts, setting up to go live, generating traffic through social promotion… it’s not a simple task. The content needs to be of a high quality, produced on a regular basis and promoted through various channels to be successful.

Finding someone on your current team with the time and skills to do this regularly and with efficiency can be tricky. That’s where paying for such a service can pay off. A freelance blogger can deliver the quality content to you, without disturbing your regular working day – and is likely able to do the promotional side of it, too. Using an expert writer means less time is taken for the crafting of each post, while the quality remains high.

And that’s what we can do for you. Just in case you hadn’t guessed yet.

Get connected

We’ve had a brief look at how social media can boost your business, whether you have 1 or one thousand employees. But what about the individual staff members? A brand is only as good as its people – and making sure your messaging extends to their business profiles is a wise idea.

This isn’t Orwellian. We’re not saying that you should control their Facebook profiles or have their Twitter passwords. What we’re talking about is the key business network across the world: LinkedIn.


What is LinkedIn?

You may have been under a rock somewhere in the Amazon forest, so we’ll briefly explain. Most commonly known as ‘Facebook for business’, users have a profile, are able to connect with others and post status updates.


Invest in headshots

People are far more likely to connect and engage with people if they have a professional photo in their profile. This is not the place for that holiday shot or grainy webcam photograph. Invest in your team members and their engagement on the social network will reflect well on your company. A smart, well-lit headshot in office attire puts out a professional image and shows that your staff take your business as seriously as you do.

Standard profiles

Ensure each key member of staff has a standard summary in their profile. Allow their personality to show through later on – the summary is the first thing people see and you want it to be connected to your business. Create a standard blurb about your business, including ethos, vision and goals. This only needs to be a few lines long.

Get involved

Identify key groups across LinkedIn which are relevant to your business as a whole, or to specific teams. Encourage your staff to join these groups, and engage in them. Start discussions on forums – and answer other people’s questions, too. Remember, providing value is one of the fastest ways to build trust.

Post statuses

The relatively new function of posting a status has brought LinkedIn closer to Facebook’s social element, and is a nifty function for promoting your latest blog or news. Encourage members of your team to post links under a public setting to achieve a wide reach, and this will make a difference to your web traffic.

Have a company profile

Set up a company profile, and have all your staff connect to the page. This profile is a great tool to tell LinkedIn users more about your business, spread your latest blogs, and share industry insights.

Online and offline work in harmony

When you have established good online relationships with key industry players, move the social aspect into the real world. Talking through forum posts and email is all well and good – but nothing beats meeting someone and connecting on a real level.

This also works in the reverse: when you have met people at events, business networking meetings or at your auntie’s wedding, connect on LinkedIn. Try not to leave it too long between meeting and connecting, and keep the conversation going by sending a short message with your invitation.


If you need a hand writing a blurb for your LinkedIn profiles, or setting up a company page, we can help. Follow us on our company page, or connect with our Founder, Imogen Bell, for a solid example of what we can do to help.

People don’t trust your brand: they trust people (Plus: win free stuff!)

 

Trust No One - Artwork by Sebastien Millon

Trust No One by Sebastien Millon – follow @sebreg on Twitter

Brand trust is a strange phrase. How can you have trust in something that is inanimate, a concept with vague applications? Well, that’s the point – you can’t. You can only trust the people who tell you that a brand delivers a good service, or product.

While you might think that you’re best placed to create this trust – and tell everyone how amazing your brand is – you’d be pretty wrong. People don’t trust things, they trust people. More significantly, they trust the people they know.

Customer recommendation is probably your number one tool to build an excellent brand reputation. Word of mouth is a huge factor in creating a strong, recognisable brand, with 92% of people trusting personal recommendation over any other form of advertising. But how can this be done?

Build a community, not an audience

The role of social media is in the name – it shouldn’t be your sole marketing channel, because people don’t use it to be sold at. They use it to communicate with others – so rather than selling to potential leads, by telling them what you offer, it works far better to talk with them and ask what they want to see.

Unlike traditional marketing channels, social media is not a broadcast tool. It is an engagement tool. It gets people talking to you and, more importantly, about you. Use the metrics about online chatter to discover who your real audience are, what they are happy with – and what they would change about your service or product.

A little word about LinkedIn

If you offer B2B services and don’t have an up-to-date company profile on LinkedIn, you are missing out a massive opportunity. Just as consumers like to read reviews on Amazon before purchasing a product, potential clients will likely be looking at your company and key players to see how highly you come recommended.

Ensuring your personal profile is highly visible, with select recommendations in a prominent place, is a good place to start. Ask for recommendations from a variety of previous clients – and be sure to reciprocate. Making the link between yourself and your company page is another useful way to build traffic, both for yourself and your company.

Get out in the real world

All this online marketing is fab, it really is. But nothing beats putting a handshake to a name – so get out there and introduce yourself. People are more memorable than brands – so your people should be your brand. Get yourself and your team out to meetings, business breakfasts, events, anything that will enable them to meet people face-to-face.

There are some great networks around, depending on where you are in the country. Some are national, while others are local. If you’re a small, locally operating business, don’t be scared of the national networks, though – if your service is unique enough, people are likely to want it regardless of location. Remember: nothing comes of nothing. Take the leap and get talking to anyone and everyone!

Free stuff!

Everybody loves free stuff. We don’t just mean physical products – although if your budget allows for it, these can go a long way to building word-of-mouth recommendations.

Free stuff can also mean free content. Give away enough to demonstrate that you know what you’re on about, and people will begin to share with others. Ways to do this include blogs, whitepapers, guest articles, print articles, infographics – the list goes on. If people think they are getting something for free, and it has your branding stamped all across it (both literally and in tone, message and style), you will become memorable.

Speaking of free stuff, Bell Branding are offering a competition to provide £500 worth of free services! All you need to do is send us an email to info@bellbranding.com with the subject title “Yes please” and include your company contact details. A random draw will be made from the viable entries on 31st July 2014 – so get entering!

 

The small print: any data collected from the Bell Branding competition will not be sold or shared to any third party. By entering the competition you agree for your details to be held on file solely for Bell Branding’s use. The Company will not abuse the access to this information but may contact you at a later date with news updates. If you would prefer that your information was deleted after the competition draw, please include “Delete me” in the body of your email. A ‘viable entry’ is one which includes all company contact details from an organisation based in the U.K. The prize is worth up to £500 and must be taken in full either as a full project or discount against a larger project.