How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget

How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget

Blog, Business skills

Product launches and the launch of a new business can be fraught with worry. Although there are some clear guidelines to project managing the creation of a new arm of your business. Here are some tried and tested steps which will set you on the right path.

Test the Market

Begin by dipping your toes into the water; even while you only have a rough outline for the product or service. At this early point, you need to establish yourself with online communities, industry think-tanks and key influencers. Do market research by looking at competitors websites, their product offerings and target audience. Then try to identify any gaps in the market. How can you do things differently from your competition?

Take an Inventory

How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget
Take stock of all of your available resources before you embark on the project.

Similar to a camping trip, you should make sure you have all of the right supplies before you embark on the exciting launch. In terms of marketing, after your preliminary preparations, you should take an inventory of every connection, blog post, recommendation, subscriber list or anything else of value to the launch.

Even if you’re starting with a small financial budget, you may have 180 blog subscribers, 520 Twitter followers, 1,010 Facebook fans. If so, lucky you! This will all be a powerful way to get the word out. It’s a different kind of currency that’s just as valuable to your success as money.

Teach What You Know

Set the pivotal and all-important launch date some time in the future. The further you can push this, the more time you have to work on building your reputation now. A key part of the launch process is reputation building. The best way to do this is to teach what you know. This may sound ludicrous, but it’s not. Essentially, you have special knowledge and key insights into your product or service. So you should actively show this off. A word of caution – this doesn’t mean blatant self promotion. Nothing is more repulsive than a person clearly on a sales mission!

Offer training articles, how-to articles, blog posts and webinars for free in the lead up to the launch. This builds your profile as a thought-leader and guru in your field, before you push the launch button.

This may sound counter-intuitive in terms of making money. However, it’s the giving away for free of information to a captivated audience, that will make this audience eager to part their with money, as soon as you give them the opportunity.

Stay grounded and teach what you already know.

Create a Landing Page or Microsite

How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget
Ensure that your online presence sings, and like an opera singer, not a Karaoke fan.

A few months prior to the big ‘kaboom’ moment of launch, you should invest in a microsite or landing page that is dedicated to the product or service. This will contain all relevant information about the benefits of the product/service, your contact information, and the offer in simple terms. Don’t overcomplicate this microsite with too much information, colours or busy design. However, you need to make it compelling enough for the site visitors to want more. The most important aspect of your microsite will be an email opt-in form. This makes it easier to execute the next phase – email marketing in the lead up to the launch.

Share, Curate and Blog

How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget
All systems are ready for launch.

Once the microsite has gone live, it’s important to promote it on social media and on your extensive industry connections. Create conversations with people on social media about related topics and blog profusely about the product or services you offer. In terms of email subscribers, make sure that you email them at least once a week, to create anticipation in the lead up to the launch.

You should also give your subscribers access to at least three posts per month, that are relevant to your product or service and provide real value to them (not sales spin). You must keep the email subscriber list hot with access to new information. Letting the list to go cold with a lack of new posts, is the sure-fire way to get your email filtered into the spam mailbox, before the launch date.

The Big Bang

How to launch absolutely anything on a shoe-string budget
The big bang

Get the support of key influencers in the industry, media contacts, friends, fans, subscribers and other associates whom you have met along the way. Do this by promising them VIP access to the product or service after launch date. Invite the media to profile you and your project. Remember to have all of your logistical and technical elements in place for the launch date.

In terms of an online service or e-commerce site, by this stage you should have a fully functional website, buyer journey and a shopping cart ready for action. Along with this, have a fully fledged social media response unit ready, to field any questions or queries in relation to the product or service.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

7 essentials for creating pay-per-click campaign copy that get results

Blog, Digital marketing strategy

Pay-per-click ad copy is an art form rendered in miniature. It’s a challenge to be so succinct in wording and yet to manage to capture a client’s unique value proposition, key selling point and the value to the customer. Although PPC ads can be powerful when you follow these simple steps for success.

7 essentials for creating pay-per-click campaign copy that get results
Are you standing out with your pay per click campaigns to reach your target audience around the globe?

1. Value: Why is your offer relevant and valuable to your audience?

How is it valuable to the audience in a broader sense. i.e. ”Reinvent yourself this new year with Reebok”

2. Offer – What exactly are you presenting to your audience?

What are you selling? Fewer calories, recycled plastic, 40% off on all now. How does the offer set itself apart from the competition? This is essential to consider in your PPC campaign. Your offer needs to be meaningful, valuable, targeted and specific to the audience’s needs.

3. Proposition – What are you asking your audience to do?

The simple action of asking people to do something can be all that’s needed to prompt the potential buyer. Although this is the other side of the coin for providing an offer. You can’t ask people to perform an action, without also providing a valuable and meaningful offer.

  • i.e. call to action. ”Free Delivery This Week Only”
  • ”Order now”
  • ”Lowest price guaranteed – buy now!”
7 essentials for creating pay-per-click campaign copy that get results
What planning have you done so far on your PPC campaigns? Are you asking your audience the right questions?

4. Speak directly to a pain point

  • Nobody visiting your site? Call us
  • Need a new body for summer? Call us
  • Drowning in tax paperwork? Call us
  • Gas bill hit the roof? Call us

5. Create a sense of urgency

A two for one deal on a massage or facial offer that ends in 24 hours will have more sticking power than a run-of-the-mill offer with no urgency attached to it. Limited time offers get results because they offer better value for money to customers.

7 essentials for creating pay-per-click campaign copy that get results
By creating a sense of urgency, or a limited time offer, you are helping to generate demand.

6. Qualify your leads

It’s no good trying to sell  car tyres to people with no cars, or conversely tampons to teenage boys or woman aged over 70. Ensure that your copy along with your Adwords campaign is reflecting the target audience you are seeking to capture, for that particular targeted campaign. This is also important so that you’re not making false promises with your PPC ad copy that isn’t being delivered on your campaign landing page/squeeze page. when you tweak your PPC copy to be better then you will find that the abandonment rate on the landing page (how many people click through and then click away without taking action) will decrease.

For example: Super cheap insurance for the students; Save on heating this winter in Sydney.

7 essentials for creating pay-per-click campaign copy that get results
Ensure that you are targeting the right audience and their needs to pre-qualify them in the PPC ads

7. Gamble – be quirky, irreverant and different

A simple memory hack is that people remember weird and quirky over ordinary and run-of-the-mill when it comes to marketing. Try and marry quirky, witty and slightly off the wall elements into your PPC campaign and you will find that these work, so long as the reference isn’t too obscure for people to understand. When in doubt, get several other people to give their opinion.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

Given that around 2.35 billion people will be using social media after 2020, it no longer makes any sense for businesses to ignore the importance of social media. No matter what part of the social media journey you're on, just starting out or a veteran – there's always room for improvement. With that in mind, here's ten ways to ramp up your social media presence.

Six Ways to Ramp Up Your Social Media Presence

Blog, Social media marketing

Given that around 2.35 billion people will be using social media after 2020, it no longer makes any sense for businesses to ignore the importance of social media. No matter what part of the social media journey you’re on, just starting out or a veteran – there’s always room for improvement. With that in mind, here’s ten ways to ramp up your social media presence.

1. Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

If you’re running a corporate business consultancy, there’s probably not much point being on Facebook. Likewise if you’re running a largely B2B enterprise. Your organisation would be better off on LinkedIn. However, if you are running a B2C enterprise where the end user is the consumer, then Facebook makes complete sense. This is where consumers spend a lot of time interacting with consumer brands. As a general rule, if you are a visually-oriented field such as design, photography, art, food, fashion or travel – then platforms geared for visual triggers and sharing like Instagram and Pinterest might be for you. Twitter is suitable for any business that requires fast moving interactivity and conversation about products or services. That’s why banks, news agencies and transport companies tend to have a strong presence and following on Twitter.

Six Ways to Ramp Up Your Social Media Presence
It may seem like a good idea to put yourself onto every platform out there, but be selective about choosing your social platforms, according to where your audience is likely to be.

2. Keep Content Timely, Newsworthy and Visual

We can define newsworthy content as being what the audience wants to hear about. So for example, if you were running a home décor company, then you would profile some fashionable trends in lounge furniture this year.

Also important is timeliness. Create a calendar of relevant holidays, seasons and key dates for the general population and the industry. Integrate these into your content as well. In this case, write about trends in lounge furniture that make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift! Or track down the birth date of the person who invented the chesterfield sofa, and offer a competition on that day.

Don’t be afraid to ask your fans what they enjoy hearing about. Social media is a conversation not a one way street. Finally, keep the ratio of pictures and videos high – social media is predominantly visual.

3. Tell a Compelling Story

With the time line functionality of many social media platforms such as Facebook, it’s become easier to showcase the bigger picture of your business, including milestones in the company history, employees, changes and innovations and community activities. All of this can be great publicity for your business and be a compelling story on social media.

In this talk, grand daddy of online marketing, Seth Godin talks about how social media and the future of work and communication.

Six Ways to Ramp Up Your Social Media Presence
Don’t squander people’s attention with boring stories, keep it real and interesting.

4. Be Authentic

When interacting on social media, make sure that you use a tone of voice that’s appropriate for the interaction. This isn’t a place for stiff boardroom professionalism. Think of the community you’re dealing with, as being your friend’s friend. You would be friendly, warm and yet polite and respectful. The key to being social media savvy, is truly listening to what the community says and learning from it. The key is being a real person and not a cardboard cut out.

5. Treat Social Media As An Arm of Customer Service

Social Media nowadays is becoming more and more important to the daily running of organisations and small businesses. The more that you make your presence visible on social media, the more likely that your customers will find and interact with you there. After all, it’s cheaper and quicker than a phone call and it’s also publicly visible.

There is a risky part of social media for businesses. If a complaint or gripe goes unanswered, it will reflect badly on that business in terms of customer service. So always stay vigilant on social media and have a polite, helpful and useful response ready. Don’t be tempted to be apathetic or less than helpful – as you’re responding on a public forum, this will only have a negative impact on the brand’s image.

A variety of interesting sorts are on social media platforms, engage with them but beware of trolls

6. Measure Your Impact

There’s no use in having a social media presence without measurement, to ensure that it’s effective. Use Google Analytics and third party applications to track and measure your performance across time frames and with different campaigns. Only then can you accurately gauge the success of your social media campaign.

Effective social media marketing can be a lot more tricky than meets the eye. For comprehensive advice on how to improve your presence on social media, speak with me today.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

Six Sales Tips You Can’t Be Without

Blog, Business skills

Sales skills aren’t just the domain of the sales team in your organisation. Sales skills can explain the logic or benefits of your perspective to another colleague, customer or employer. It’s just another aspect of communication.

Yes – sales skills can win new business, but these skills are also applicable to many other aspects of professional life, such as going for a job interview, gaining new investment, nurturing customer relationships, networking and more.

Selling yourself can seem unnatural and weird, but it’s a skill you should learn to master.

Selling Yourself Effectively

When you go for a new job, don’t simply measure yourself against a position description or the company in question. Instead ask those who know you well about your unique strengths, something that you do without even realising it, that’s immensely beneficial to you. Employers will jump at the chance to employ someone with a distinctive skill set, rather than someone who simply lives up to a standard.

The Nuts and Bolts of Sales

In terms of traditional sales and winning new business, you should follow these guidelines in the early stages. In your project notes or simply in your mind’s eye, make an objective for a particular meeting with the client. Having a clear goal in mind when you have meetings, will avoid the pitfalls of vague communications and interactions. Some examples of goals for meetings include: 1. Getting a description of the customer’s problem. 2. Getting the contact details of the decision maker. 3 Asking for the customer’s business.

Sales does not need to be cheesy. It can instead be authentic and real…but beware of setting off any bullshit-o-meters. Be real.

Green Lights and Qualifiers

Look for subtle hints and green lights from the client, that it may be the right time to close. This is done by qualifying them with questions like: How does that sound? How would that work? What do you think about that? Then summarise your proposed offer with them. It’s 100% true that half of the battle is won by you being completely confident in your solution.

Be Tenacious

Prompt: Be a go-getter and jump onto sales leads quickly. If you intuit that the time is right to close a sale, then they do so right then and there.
Persist: If you know that the customer needs that particular solution, then be persistent and yet flexible in your offering to them. Although there’s a difference between persistence and being annoying, so be careful.
Focus: Use every sales opportunity to improve your skills at communication and proactive questioning. Then channel every new experience into your next sales opportunity.

Embracing your inner weirdo (in other words your authenticity) is a way to really stand out from the masses.

Customer Centric Selling

One critical aspect of selling is intimately knowing the customer’s needs, motivations and perspective. Otherwise your efforts will be pointless. This is perfectly articulated in a Ted Talk by Amy Lockwood. She explained a situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where charity and NGO organisations were distributing huge numbers of condoms in the region to prevent the spread of HIV. However these charity condoms were incredibly unpopular, as they were marketed in the wrong way to their target audience. Pictures on the packaging depicted images of fidelity and the HIV ribbon symbol. They found that condom brands from the West depicting erotic imagery were the biggest sellers in the Congo.

The key message we can take from this, is that any customer solution that you offer must be fine-tuned and customised to the individual or group in question. Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.

Watch the TED talk here:

Dense Versus Sparse Networks

Dense business networks of people contain individuals who know each other closely and have a lot of interconnected relationships. Dense networks are ideal for people working on the same project, such as researchers or project teams.

In the realm of sales – dispersed networks of people work in your favour.

However in terms of sales, dispersed networks work better. Dispersed networks occur when individuals that you know, don’t know each other. This is the ideal situation for getting fresh or unique information that others don’t know about, for example a sales lead. To attempt to utilise your sales network, try and build a network of key decision makers in prospect organisations. Also, keep a network of existing customers, who often comprise of fans and brand advocates. These people will actively promote your brand on your behalf, and give you new sales leads on a plate without you even asking.

Getting consistently on-brand content for clients can be a challenge for a number of reasons. This definitive guide for content managers takes the pain out of planning, coordinating and managing content writers so that there’s a high quality and consistent result for the clients.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Don’t squash or squander their creativity, incorporate it and encourage it!

1. Get the right client brief

The client should be clear about their content requirements with you, so that you can then translate this for your freelance content writers. If the client is unclear themselves about what they need then put your strategy hat on and provide insights and recommendations for them about content types, relevant channels, content strategy, timelines and what sort of content and platforms will get the best results.

2. Work out the strategy

If you and the client are going down the blogging route, then develop a third party blogging strategy that encompasses the needs of the client and a series of credible, interesting and enjoyable blogging topics. These blog posts will need to read as authentic, interesting and from an SEO point of view, a good way to provide backlinks to your client’s website.

3. Ideation of topics around thought leadership

The content strategy should emphasise that the client is an authority in a particular area. Be it teaching languages or selling lawnmowers. So the posts created by the content writers should demonstrate this expertise by offering helpful, practical advice that can be a real resource to readers.

4. Communicate with your content writers

Once you have liaised with the client extensively and worked out a content strategy, then at this point its a good time to involve your content writers in the content creation process. You can ask them to consider your topic idea and investigate into the topic extensively. Ask your writers to write while considering whether or not they would actually enjoy reading the article themselves. Would they find the article useful or enjoyable to read. If not, then there is still work to be done on the post before it goes live.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Communication is critical with your team to get the best result in terms of writing

5. Headlines are vital

Get your writers to consider the strength of the title. Headlines/titles are a key part of blogging. People don’t spend ages reading everything online; they read what stands out and catches their attention. The headline is a writer’s chance to grab the attention of the audience and the post itself is the chance to maintain attention in a sustained way. Content writers can do this in a number of ways, including:

  • Surprising the audience.
  • Creating a sense of mystery
  • Making the audience empathise with something
  • Talking about a trigger (such as a celebrity, news story or seasonal event) they may be interested in.

Headline formats: 

  • Top 10 tips
  • How to…
  • 6 of the best…
  • 8 ways to…
  • 7 reasons why…
  • Dos and don’ts
  • The secret of…
  • The lazy way to…
  • 10 things we can learn from…
  • Early warning signs of…
  • The big question (one people can empathise with!)
  • Do you make these common mistakes?
The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Push your headlines to go off with a bang, not a whimper

6. Blog post essentials

In order to make sure your content writers are making web-friendly content, instruct them on including the following blog post essentials into their posts. These make posts more scannable and useful.

  • Great sub-heading
  • Bullet-point lists
  • Specific recommendations:
    • Places, events, etc
    • Physical addresses and contact phone numbers.
    • Website URLs and information
    • Maps
  • Images
  • Embed codes for Google Maps
  • Embed codes for YouTube clips

7. Branding considerations

There are certain commonsense things no client will want to talk about in articles such as crime, drug abuse, etc. Many of these topics will be obvious and won’t require any explanation.

Although ensure that you liaise with your clients for any touchy subjects or off-brand subjects that should not appear in content. Instruct your content writers to bear in mind that they should think about the client’s desired projected image and branding when they are writing. Instruct them to cut anything they are unsure about.

Also remember that the focus of an article should never be a service offered by a client’s rival. Services offered by the client must never be referred to in a negative way. If they’re compared with something, they should be represented as the better choice.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Writing for brands can be risky, especially when you need to explore difficult subjects

8. Accuracy, grammar and punctuation

Although as the content manager you should be vigilant for various grammar and punctuation issues in the final copy, the overall responsibility to ensure factual accuracy and quality control should also be the purview of the content writers themselves.

However for them to do their job properly, you should provide them with clear guidance on this. For example if they have to read a sentence more than once, they should rephrase it. Ask for concise, plain and punchy language. Use the active voice, not the passive voice. Break up sentences longer than 2 clauses.Paragraphs should only be 2-4 lines long – if they’re longer, ask the content writer to break them up. Subheadings and bullet-point lists should be used where possible to make content easier to scan and speed-read.

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers
Exploring content together and proof-reading as a collaborative team is the best way to ensure accuracy

6. Including Links (external content)

Links in blog posts add legimitacy to the content and provide a high quality addition to posts. Get your content writers to include links naturally in the context of the post. By including them in an author bio they can demonstrate the client’s expertise rather than pollute the content. When links are included, ensure the content writers include them naturally in sentences – the grammar should be correct.

7. Formatting

Provide clear instructions on how content writers should format their posts before submission. How pedantic you become about this is up to you! Below are some guidelines I needed to follow to ensure that posts were consistent all of the time. With a huge workflow, this can be very time-saving in the long term.

  • Posts should be in Word with the following format:
  • Language should be set to English (UK)
  • Margins: 2.54cm all way round
  • Line spacing: 1.15
  • Font: Calibri, 11pt, black (not headings/subheadings)
  • Text alignment: justified (not headings/subheadings)
  • Main heading: centre, Calibri, 26pt, bold.
  • 1st-level subheadings: left, Calibri, 18pt, bold
  • 2nd-level subheadings: left, Calibri, 14pt, bold.
  • Keywords/links: hyperlinks should be inserted where keywords appear in the text, like this.
  • Line breaks: Please leave line breaks after headings and images and between paragraphs.

10. Submitting content

In order to avoid the confusion of a multitude of work coming in from different content writers and for different client briefs, you should give your content writers clear instructions on submission as follows:

  • Reply to the email you were sent that contains the relevant content brief, leaving the original subject line.
  • Attach the Word document with correct file name along with the relevant 2 images (all together in a zip file would be ideal).
  • Include any relevant notes within the body of the email.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

The definitive guide for content managers: How to get the most out of content writers

Blog