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I can already hear you saying “where did that year go to?”

Time flies, as we all know, and the end of 2017 is fast approaching. Everyone is frantically working to meet those Christmas and end of year deadlines in time.

Just pause and take a moment to think back to January this year. After your Christmas break I bet you returned to the office full of vitality and fresh ideas of how to make 2017 the year that you made the big break through and really built your business. You had a strategy for the next twelve months with plenty of innovative marketing ideas to push your business to the fore and leave your competitors standing still.

All you needed was some time to get the plan straight in your head and explain your ideas to your team.

And then the phone rang and before you knew it you were head down again dealing with the usual daily routine. All those bright ideas got pushed aside as you found yourself bogged down with the reality of running your business, problem solving and keeping staff and customers happy. Just as you had in 2016 and 2015.

Don’t let this happen to you again in 2018.

Book a regular time in your calendar or diary to work on your strategy and plan for the year and don’t let anything interfere with that time. Treat it as you would a meeting with any one of your clients and don’t let anything else intrude.

Involve your staff so that they know this time is ‘sacred’ and not to be interrupted. In fact, you could get them involved in the planning process too so everyone knows where your company is headed.

Make dedicated time to concentrate on your own business each week and stick to it. Then perhaps 2018 will be the year of your big break through.
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Before I get started, just have a think about the businesses you deal with that you feel you have the best relationship with and feel most loyal to. I bet they will have at least one of these traits:

• They take good care of you
• They go that extra mile for you
• They seem to always understand you
• They appear to genuinely appreciate you

In other words, you value them because they have empathy with you.

The trouble with too much marketing today is that it is cold and impersonal. It is about what the business wants to sell to you, not about what you want as a customer. It comprises a series of sales pitches, gimmicks and special offers.

What it lacks is empathy with its potential clients and customers. It fails to appeal to people as individuals so it fails to connect with them.

What I am saying is that you need to understand and care about your market, your clients and customers. More importantly, your marketing needs to make sure that they know that you care.

Take a personal approach to show that you care and you will feel the positive feedback that makes all the difference.

If you’d like to know about more marketing ideas and how I can help you grow your business then give me a call on 01452 864402 for an informal preliminary conversation.
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Networking can be a powerful way of building up your business. However, too many people approach it with the wrong attitude and consequently think it does not work for them.
Here are five common mistakes people make when networking, together with simple strategies to overcome them.

1. You always expect everyone at networking events to be a client. You should rather be focussing on making contacts. Networking is about building business relationships, not necessarily sales.

2. You give out as many business cards as you can. It is not a competition. Collecting cards from other businesses is just as important as giving out yours. Again, you are building relationships.

3. You don’t want to chat but cut straight to the deal. This won’t work. You need to build a rapport with people. Tell them about your products and services of course but try and see how they suit these new contacts. Get referrals.

4. You try and close a deal immediately because this may be your only chance. People don’t go to these events for a hard sell. You are much more likely to close a sale when you have established a relationship.

5. You follow up everyone you have met with an offer they can’t refuse. They will, though. If you are going to follow up then send an email referencing something you talked about. Send a link to an article that might be of interest, for instance, or give them a referral.

Networking is all about building relationships for the long term, not necessarily short term sales.
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Now, you may be wondering why I have suddenly started making public service announcements but please bear with me.

Our new twelve sided £1 coin came into circulation on 28th March 2017 as a replacement for our old ‘round pound’. The reason for introducing it is to cut down on counterfeiting. In addition, it’s distinctive twelve sides make it easier to detect by touch alone and it is considerably lighter than the old coin.

The old pound coin ceases to be legal tender on 15th October, just a few weeks away. Banks are expected to exchange coins for notes after that date, providing they are in bags of twenty. You will probably still be able to exchange them at the bank or Post Office if you hold an account there.

So why am I going on about this change in our monetary system? What can it possibly have to do with marketing, I hear you ask.

Simple – keywords.

If someone is looking to find out when the old £1 coin goes out of circulation they may well find themselves here, on this page. They will find out what they want to know, when the old coins go out of circulation, and probably go on their way, never to visit this site again.

But … there is always the chance that while they are here they may want to have a look around. And if they have a business that is looking for a new website, for instance, or some innovative marketing ideas, they just might pick up the phone and give me a call.

I’m not suggesting that you simply fill your blogs and webpages with front page news items or a list of famous names as that would be counter-productive. However, if a celebrity is visiting a restaurant local to you it might be possible to weave a story around the fact, including their name in your headline, attracting traffic you would not normally get.

Be creative!

If you have satisfied your curiosity about the old £1 coin and would like to chat about how I can help you grow your business then call me on 01452 864402 for an informal preliminary conversation to see how I can help you.
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If, like me, you check how many visits people make to your site, you may be frustrated by the number who view but don’t decide to buy from you or take up your service.

“Timewasters!” you shout at the screen.

Here’s how you can make those same timewasters work for you.

If we turn the question around you will see that the feedback shows that your website is attracting the wrong type of customer. So why is that?

• Your marketing message is wrong
• You are aiming your marketing at the wrong people

Rather than dismissing the timewasters, try and engage with them. If you have a phone number, call them or if you have an email address drop them a quick line. “What made you visit our website today?”

They might say, for instance, that they were looking to buy a cheap widget. What does your marketing say about the prices of your widgets? If it says that they are ‘cheap’ or ‘low price’ then check that they are. Your competitors may have recently lowered their prices so now yours are no longer deemed cheap.

Take the time to consider all feedback, both positive and negative, and think about what it says about your advertising and products. Those timewasters might actually be giving you a valuable insight into a flaw in your marketing.

Want some more marketing tips? Call me now on 01452 864402 and let’s talk about how I can make your business grow.
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Never heard of content marketing? You may not have heard the phrase but you’ve certainly seen it in action.

Every time you visit a website, be it for entertainment or news, you are engaging with content marketing. It is the information you are accessing, what you are actually seeing and reading.

The role of content marketing is to attract new clients, business leads, subscribers and sales and as such it is one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing armoury.

So how does content marketing work in practice? You create a website, blog, vlog or newsletter and provide information to people for free. The key, though, is to make it have real value for your prospective and existing clients. At the same time you give them the opportunity to buy goods and services from you that are closely linked to the content.

Take the Dynamic Sales Solutions website as an example. Here we provide valuable free marketing advice and ideas, as well as our free newsletter, Marketing Matters. Our aim is that some of the people who read our content will find it so useful and interesting that they will contact us to explore how we can help them improve their website and marketing and improve their sales.

If you’d like more advice on how to maximise profits in your business give me a call today on 01452 864402 and we can have an informal preliminary chat.
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Networking – some people are naturals at it, others need to work hard. Whatever your views you should remember that it is one of the most cost effective ways for small businesses to grow new business and get repeat work.

It is estimated that networking and word of mouth advertising are jointly likely to bring in seven times as much business as any other form of advertising. And generally it is free.

Here are my 5 top tips:

• Choose wisely. There is little point in wasting energy going to every event you can find. Pick the ones that suit you best and make sure you attend them regularly.

• Plan your time. Expect to get to events early and be prepared stay late. You need to circulate and talk to people and you can’t do that while a meeting is taking place.

• Remember who you’ve met. If you see them at another meeting ask them how they are getting on with the difficult client they mentioned before. Build relationships and make key contacts. Make sure you are sincere, however.

• Follow up leads. If you have promised to send someone a brochure, make sure you do. Then at the next meeting ask them if they got it and what they thought about it.

• Be generous. If you pass on tips or referrals people will remember you. Hopefully this may lead to future business for you too.

Want some more marketing tips? Call me now on 01452 864402 and let’s talk about how I can make your business grow.
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Tuesday 9th May saw some business colleagues and I hard at work on a course – a golf course, that is!

We were pleased to support the latest James Hopkins Trust Charity Golf Day and, although our team didn’t win, we had a marvellous day out mixing with other Gloucester business people.

Our team was representing Severn Signs and you can see in the picture Rob Wallace, Managing Director of that company, Tony Lawrence, owner of Gloucester’s Kodak Vision Centre and me, Clive Hannis.

The event was held at the magnificent Tewkesbury Park Golf and Country Club. Starting the day with bacon butties, we set to on the impressive 6,500 yard par 72 course. I reckon we deserved their carvery after spending the day battling through woods and avoiding the water hazards.

The James Hopkins Trust is a Gloucester based charity set up in 1989 to care for babies and children under 5 who have life limiting or life threatening conditions. At present they are supporting 90 children and their families and have helped over 500 children since the charity’s formation.

I am very pleased to say that the day raised just under £10,000 for this fantastic cause.

You can find out more about the James Hopkins Trust here:


http://www.jameshopkinstrust.org.uk/
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If you are a small business I know that you will be doing everything to save money wherever you can. Here are five easy ways to do just that:

1. Contract instead of hiring. Employees need office space and equipment. They need training. They need their insurance, sickness and holiday pay. Hire a contractor or freelancer instead and see how much money you save immediately.

2. Empty that store cupboard. This is supposed to be the age of the paperless office yet how many companies still have a stationary store? It’s time to ditch the stapler, paperclips and hole punch. If you really can’t live without post it notes there’s an app for that.

3. Cut down travelling to meetings. Yes it is important to meet with clients face to face but do you really need to do that every week/fortnight/month? Save the time and expense of travelling and use technology to teleconference occasionally instead.

4. You can be too loyal. An MD of a company I know used the same company for his packaging for many years. He liked and trusted them but then discovered that they were still charging him top rate even though costs had fallen and other customers were getting the same goods considerably cheaper. Unsurprisingly he changed supplier.

5. Watch fees and charges. Paying bank charges, finance fees and penalties for late payment is just throwing good money away. Do you really need corporate gym membership? Chase down those fees and check everything thoroughly.

If you’d like more advice on how to maximise profits in your business give me a call today on 01452 864402 and we can have an informal preliminary chat.
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I think it is true to say that everyone visiting your website for the first time has something in common – they are curious.

They want something from you, information, a product or a service, so they visit your website. That website’s job is to turn that enquiry into a client. To do that, you need to make them curious enough to contact you.

Too many small businesses kill curiosity rather than nurturing it. Their websites are full of lists, FAQs and highly detailed information. Of course you need to give some detail and information but you also need to hold something back.

Your website, and indeed your whole approach to marketing, needs to encourage the client’s curiosity until they feel they need to contact you, by phone, email or in person.

Take a log hard look at your marketing. Is it encouraging curiosity or bombarding the client with an overload of information?

Better still call me now on 01452 864402 and I will help you build the client curiosity you need to encourage.
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