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The FCM Business and Marketing Blog – bringing you the articles that boost your business

What Makes You Special?

It’s an interesting question and one which I was asked recently. How do you answer? In Britain we’re very much taught not to be a bragger or to “blow our own trumpets”, so it’s ingrained in us from an early age not to think of ourselves in that way. But of course, each and every one of us is special.. It may be a skill that we have, a success record we can prove or just simply a wonderful nature that shines. When it comes to business however, being special, excelling, standing out, this is an amazing thing and one that should be promoted. Writing posts that celebrate your achievements and note your success, tell potential clients of your worth and encourage new customers to engage with you. Don’t hide your sparkle moments, let everyone share with you that thing that has given rise to a bubble of happiness, achievement or just a chance to step back and say “I did it”.  You’ll see that your connections are only too happy to say “that’s great” or “well done” and more doors will open for you. As for my answer – well, I give business owners a chance to showcase their brilliance which in turn, I guess, makes me special.. If you’d like me to help you tell the world you’re great, then please message me!    ... read more

A little Rant

I have tried very hard over the last few weeks not to become engaged in the political rants however I’m bloody tired of seeing people’s opinions forced upon me. Right now I don’t believe we have anyone capable of being the leader this country needs. We need someone to stand up and say NO! We need someone who is going to say it’s time to sort out our own house before we stick our nose elsewhere. And we need someone who is not in it for their own greed, agenda or ego. When we have no empty boarded up houses and no homeless on our streets, when we have our own industry manufacturing and exporting again, when we have our NHS strong and our economy stable THEN and only then should be be considering how involved we can become with foreign troubles. I work hard to run my business, pay my bills and ensure that my own house in is order – whilst this may be a simplistic view, this is how I feel we should be looking at the future. We had an incredible country. We were leaders in innovation, technology and we strove to be great – unfortunately the leaders we had then no longer exist. Until we find someone with the backbone to fight for this country and all those those that live here – regardless of their race or their nationality then we will continue to fail. I don’t advocate handing out benefits to those who are not in need or indeed have not earned it – and by that statement I include every lazy... read more

Do You Really Want Me?

On Friday morning I was “treated” to a sales call.  Now I was expecting the call having enquired about their services.  It was a well know business growth company that had been recommended.  I should state that I wasn’t overly impressed with their product or the cost, so I already had reservations, however I was willing to hear the chap out. I came off the phone 1 hour and 40 minutes later, having written a blog and done various office tasks, with no desire to ever hear from them again! I’m not a sales person.  I don’t like sales. BUT, I do know that talking at a prospective client is not the way to gain business. I timed him, at one point and he talked without pause or without interacting with me for over 20 minutes! Surely the aim of the call is to get me to buy in – not bore me? Once the call had ended and I had explained that I was not interested, I thought about how the market has changed and yet how perceptions haven’t.  The US style, hard sell is becoming more and more common, particularly with marketing events and coaching but from what I can tell, (and having spoken to other business owners who are of my age group) it doesn’t work. Interestingly still, my son who is 18, hovered in the office and listened for a while (the call was on hands free) and he made several notes to me along the lines of “when is he going to stop and breath” and “is he reading a script?” So perhaps the younger generation... read more

You’re In The Wrong Place

So yesterday morning I happened upon Radio 2 and caught the end of Jeremy Vine disparaging LinkedIn.  Firstly I was surprised that they were talking about social media and secondly that the overall opinion seemed to be that LinkedIn no longer had value.. Which then got me thinking about how often I’m seeing the daily dross appear in my stream and how often I think to myself “oh for goodness sake you’re not on Facebook here, you’re posting this nonsense in the wrong place.” How has this happened?  I have run many training courses on the use of social media in business and one of the statements I have stood by time and again is that LinkedIn is on the far end of the “social” scale.  It’s not a place for family images, quizzes, or the “look at me giving my time/breakfast/lunch money to the homeless” selfie. It’s a place to talk about business.  It’s your online professional networking event.. You wouldn’t show up to a breakfast network meeting and whip out your holiday snaps, nor would you make an inappropriate pass at someone you found attractive and you certainly wouldn’t spam everyone when you got home, including those in the same industry as you.. So why do it online? Is it purely a lack of understanding as to what LinkedIn is for, or are more and more people blurring the lines between business and social? Of course it’s argued that Facebook is also a business tool, but again there is a separation in the form of accounts and business pages (don’t get me started on the horror of... read more

The Write People

As you may know, last week I attended the London Book Fair.  To be honest I had a fair amount of trepidation on the days running up to it, for a sole proprietor that was a lot of expense, time and energy – so was it worth it? I can honestly say that it was. I was lucky enough that my stand was in an area that had good footfall but more importantly I was surrounded by people who not only had exhibited for many years but who were willing to share their knowledge and experience. Overnight I gained a support network. I was given a crash course on how to manage a successful stand, advice on how to make the most of the 3 days and industry information that no amount of Googling would have given me. On the first day of the show I was on my own, the obvious fears of leaving the stand for coffee breaks were non existent as the lady next to me ensured that all my valuables were safe, the gentlemen opposite made the most fabulous Beduin coffee and tea and when they though I was flagging made sure I drank and ate dates.. Their generosity knew no bounds. Everyone I spoke to took the time to share knowledge and be relaxed and friendly.  Sure the big stands were open only to those with appointments but that didn’t matter. I met some of the most eccentric, funny, determined characters all willing to take time out and chat. And on top of that I surpassed all of my goals and came away a... read more

Virtually There

So roughly 8 weeks ago on the spur of the moment, I booked a stand for the London Book Fair. 3 Days in Olympia, what could be better? Of course having never exhibited before, there were a lot of things I didn’t know about, hadn’t considered and quite honestly scared the heck out of me! When you work as part of a team or a larger organisation, you take for granted the pool of knowledge and experience that surrounds you. But what about when you’re a sole trader? There is now only a week until showtime – this time next week I shall be all shiny with my conference smile in place, but yesterday I started to panic – just a little.. And that’s where my virtual team came in.. You know those connections you make that help you with a project or supply an occasional service? The people that you meet at networking that you don’t know too well? All I can say is thank goodness for them. I spoke to a designer who gave me a great idea for a giveaway, a printer who came up with a solution to my lack of space advertising, advice online about hiring products and  2 brilliant ladies prepared to give up their time to help at the show in return for a bartered service.. Suddenly I had that same comfort blanket of experience, knowledge and support. So my point here is, don’t be afraid to ask, as a business owner we often feel that we have to do everything ourselves and can’t be seen to need help – that’s not the case, and... read more

Birthday Bashes

So this week we’re all saying Happy Birthday to Twitter, now 10. A pretty big milestone in the life of a social media platform, but what exactly does it do for you? I get asked time and again, how can Twitter effectively be used as a business tool, isn’t it just about the Kardashian derrière or sharing pictures of your breakfast/lunch/coffee..? Well there are people utilising it solely for that purpose, but seriously, if you’re in business then you need Twitter. LinkedIn is without a doubt THE business platform, but Twitter is a close second. In fact Twitter is a better search engine for business than Google, IMHO. If I search on Google for a builder I’ll be presented with a lot of builders and websites to choose from (many of which will be awful.. but that’s an entirely different article), however, should I type into Twitter “I’m looking for a building in X area” I will get back not only suggestions of who I can use but really useful recommendations or warnings of who not to use – massively more helpful!  AND should there be some social media savvy builders out there who have set up a search stream for Builder in X then hopefully they’ll see my tweet and respond promptly offering their services.. Win Win. On top of that there are hundreds of Twitter Hours using either location or sector driven hashtags #lincolnhour, #smallbizhour etc. These are brilliant for engaging potential clients and having real time conversations.  All geared up to increasing your online personality and generating you new leads.. Twitter has come a long way... read more

What Is Facebook Flex Targeting?

When it comes to paid advertising, Facebook was already in someways leading the pack with it’s targeting software, and now they have firmly upped their game. Flex targeting has been running for a while on 3rd party software but is now available to all. So “what does this mean?” I hear you say.. Well to put it simply you now have the and/or opportunity when targeting. Previously Facebook would generate your audience based on criteria such as age, likes, location etc but now you can exclude users too. With Detailed Targeting you can drill down so much deeper. For instance as a financial adviser you could search for men in their 50’s, in your location, who play golf and exclude those who have already retired. It’s similar in some ways to having negative keywords in Adwords. So now when you come to plan your advertising campaign think of these points What is your main target demographic? What websites are they looking at? What’s their location? Does device make a difference to your search? What is unique about this campaign and those you are targeting? What don’t you want them to do? Facebook have made advertising more and more appealing, as a business you will have noticed that your posts generate little traffic without being boosted, however of course the aim is to drive people that want your service to your page or your website. Having “Likes” on your page is one thing but having interested, potential buyers on your site is far better. For more information or help please have a chat with... read more

Should You Worry About PPC Changes?

You may have heard that Google has now decided to remove the right hand ad column. What will this mean for your PPC campaign? For months I have been advising my clients that they needed their ads to appear top left, particularly for mobile users.  Therefore it comes as no shock to me that Google has made this decision. Google has initiated many changes including serving up information, specific ads and videos to the right of search results. Here you can see that the top 4 results are now paid ads and on the right is a definition of printing and images suggestions. The idea behind this as with all Google changes it to provide a better service for the user. There is no evidence as yet to show that cost per click (CPC) rates will change or that you’ll suddenly need a bigger budget.  What it does mean however is for those of you currently relying on SEO and organic traffic only, you will find you are falling lower and lower in search result display.  Where paid ad #4 is now, used to be organic #1. The advantages here are that you can further utilise the additional extensions which did not feature on the right had ads, such as calls to action, links to additional pages, phone numbers etc. Personally I think this is a good move and will help advertisers in the long run. It will require additional work to existing campaigns and tweaking of ads, but this really should be done as a matter of course and not as a knee jerk reaction! If you’d like further information please... read more

Where Is the Profit in Social Media?

The value of social media to your business is not easily expressed in dollars, euro, or pounds. Nevertheless, social media does contribute to the success of your business. If you want to know how, you can use KPIs, or key performance indicators.   It is hard to express the profit that social media brings to a business in dollars, euro or pounds. Businesses that use social media can nonetheless measure the value of their social online actions. Every action on social media has to contribute to the success of the business. When you think of success in term of profit, however, you tend to see only monetary value. Monetary value is not something that you gain immediately when you use social media in your business. The effect that social media has on the success of your business is best measured in KPIs, or key performance indicators. The following are important factors for measuring the performance of your social media activity. – Recommendations by clients/customers. – An increase in the number of fans/followers of your brand or business. – A higher position in search engine rankings. – More page views and a higher number of visitors to your main website. – More posts/mentions about your brand or business. – A decline in marketing costs. – An increase in turnover from existing and new customers. For social media marketers these factors are vital measuring points. For example, the buzz created by a large group of fans or followers is an important contribution to building up the reputation of your brand or business name. Every post on a social media network adds... read more