Wednesday, 29 September 2010

An old business adage adapted for the internet era...

An old boss of mine used to frequently berate the senior managers and directors of the business with the old adage “turnover is for vanity, profit is for sanity.” He used to miss off the next bit which goes...”and cash is king!”.

I often wondered about that. But after all, the business in question had a £500million turnover and was then part of a group that was listed on the FTSE 100. In those circumstances, where the group is swimming in money, working capital isn’t as much of a pressing concern as it is when you run your own business or work in an SME, so the “cash is king” bit was missed off.

Anyway, the thought occurred to me whilst I was looking at Google analytics this morning that the phrase could be reworked for the internet age - and it applies to web traffic. The sentiment remains pretty similar.

I always want to drive more traffic to websites, but is that always a good thing? Would you like a million visitors to your company website per month that then did nothing? Would it be preferable to have less visitors, but gain some sort of tangible response from more of them? And, would it not be best of all if those website visitors then made contact and became paying customers?

So with those questions in mind and an onus on quality instead of quantity, here is our update on the old adage:

“Volume is for vanity, response is for sanity and conversion is king!”

Taking this view, we’ve recently had some great successes with client websites – quickly seeing our clients’ sites pay for themselves and deliver a healthy return on investment. If you’re considering building a website for your business and you want to discuss our approach, give us a call on 01282 878 301.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

BrandSpankin's October PR & Social Media Marketing Course

We’re pleased to announce that we have confirmed dates for our October PR and social media marketing course. Why not call us now – despite the spending cuts we can still get your place on the course FULLY FUNDED if your business has five or more employees. (Even if you have less than five people, call us anyway – we may still be able to help)

The course will run on consecutive Mondays – the 11th and 18th October from 10am to 4pm. The course will be held at Pendle Enterprise Haven, in Nelson Lancashire.

The BrandSpankin' PR and social media marketing course trains businesses to:-

- Formulate key messages properly
- Write a compelling, "media-ready" press release
- Formulate an objectives-based Comms/Marketing plan that locks marketing activity into your Business Plan
- Understand the requirements of journalists and publication editors
- Use a series of freely available tools to monitor and measure the success of campaigns
- Understand how to optimise and best utilise your presence on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Foursquare.
- Use a variety of online PR resources to "self-publish" news releases
- Use blogging platforms to "self-publish"
- Massively enhance your online presence - so-called "Digital Asset Optimisation"
- Significantly increase traffic to your website
- Significantly increase return on investment

Attendees also:-

- Have a q/a session with a business journalist
- Have a one-2-one follow up from the course
- Receive presentations from each module of the course
- Receive a "starter-pack" of journalist data and the means to build this for themselves.
- Receive regular updates on new developments that will assist you to stay ahead of your competitors.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Five top tips for SME online marketing

Firstly, you shouldn’t need convincing that online marketing is necessary. Consumers are online and looking for local goods and services right now – so don’t miss out. Marketing your business online can give you measurable results – you can see where you spent your marketing budget and accurately track where the leads are coming from and what return they are bringing you. It’s relatively low-cost (even free in some instances) and it can deliver a high yield. So, what’s not to like?

Here’s a few things to consider...

1) Take control of your website

You need your website to do a job for you. It shouldn’t just be a brochure. Yes, it should look good and read well, but it should also build awareness for your business, generate leads and (where possible) make money! This process is a lot easier if you can operate the site yourself. If your site has a Content Management System (CMS) you’re laughing. If not, you’ve got a problem. A CMS allows you to update your site through a web browser – which is a lot less hassle than waiting for your web company to update it and charge you for the privilege!

If your business is a start up, there are alternatives if you’re operating on a budget - you could just run a blog until you’ve got the budget for a proper site. Have a look at some of the free blogging resources out there like or Posterous. If you want to be a bit more ambitious, have a look at WordPress, a free publishing platform. If you can spare the time and effort you can build yourself a free site – one client of ours, Ghost Town Records, did exactly this and the result is pretty impressive.

2) Drive traffic to your site

If your website is going to work hard it needs people looking at it – so don’t just wait for this to happen, make it happen. You can pay to do this using Google AdWords – so-called pay-per-click. You only pay when someone finds your ad on search engine listings and clicks through. You can qualify your ad by making it “geo-targeted”. In other words, you can specify the geographic area where you want people to see your ads – why pay to advertise to an area where you don’t want to sell?

However, you can also drive traffic to your site for free using social media sites. Every time you update your blog or your website – post links on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Similarly if you got a new offer, let people know – include a link to the offer page on your site. Social media gives you an opportunity to be seen to add value, offer advice and get conversational. Just yesterday a member of the BrandSpankin’ team happened to tweet that her killer heels had lived up to their name and she could do with a foot massage – she got a direct message back from a business called Happy Feet with a link to their site. She contacted them and was offered a free sample! That’s an example of excellent “conversational” social media marketing in action. And suffice to say, BrandSpankin’s high heeled Diva has posted it all over the place and let all her friends know!

3) Build a local list

It’s pretty easy to organise a list of contacts isn’t it? You could even get people to sign up to it on your web site. When you’re at events if you get someone’s card, politely ask if it’s OK to send information through to them. At its most basic you can use social media tools like Twitter to stay in touch. But why not start to send out e-shots to your list? There are free tools out there that you can use to do this, such as Mail Chimp. Not only can you manage a professional looking e-shot for free, you even get to analyse the results as it tells you who opened your e-shot and who clicked through. With that information you can then start to schedule a series of follow up calls and convert some of that interest into business.

4) Get on Google Maps

If you go to you can put your business on Google maps – meaning people conducting a local search will see you business and your location, plus they can click through to your website! Many Google searches show local listings and this is a good way to get your business “above the scroll”.

5) Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a costly and complicated exercise, but when done properly it will bear significant results. A basic way to enhance your SEO (if you have a CMS) is to ensure that the text within your site contains keywords that your customers and prospects are likely to use when looking for the product or service you sell. You can research high volume search terms by using this tool –

This approach will provide some very basic assistance – if you want to explore SEO much more thoroughly, give us a call. (01282 878 301)

However, there are other forms of optimisation you should consider – simply making your business more visible and “findable” will help you to get a return on your digital marketing investment – this is sometimes called Digital Asset Optimisation. We urge small businesses to consider as many methods as possible to create this online visibility. So make sure you’re engaged in the social media conversation – have a Facebook fan page, have a LinkedIn company profile, use a blog, tweet to your followers, use free PR resources (such as PR web or release-news) to publish you press releases, set up a Youtube channel etc, etc.

There are loads of free resources available - and they can be managed in a way that isn’t too time consuming. The opportunity they present is to significantly raise you profile, generate increased traffic to your, website, increase your lead generation, and to generate more revenue.

And, if you’re still not convinced that you can do all this yourself, give us a call as we can provide PR and Social Media Marketing training – and if you’re from a North West business, we can probably get it fully funded for you.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

NEWS RELEASE: Contemporary Heritage: a new way of seeing Towneley Hall and Park

Mid Pennine Arts and Towneley Hall partner on the first Contemporary Heritage commission

BURNLEY’s Towneley Hall and Park is gearing up for the imminent launch of Contemporary Heritage featuring the work of nationally acclaimed artist Geraldine Pilgrim.

Not Forgotten, which opens on Saturday 11th September, forms part of Contemporary Heritage, a Mid Pennine Arts partnership programme inspired by the historic venues that Pennine Lancashire is home to.

Rebecca Alexander Mid Pennine Arts’ Visual Arts and Projects Officer, said: “Pennine Lancashire has a wealth of sites, from Castles to Towers, all rich with stories and history. We are working with our partner venues to commission artists to create new work in response to these stunning locations.”

“We are passionate about the cultural heritage we have in Pennine Lancashire and the opportunity Contemporary Heritage offers visitors to experience major works of art outside a city environment by artists of national and international standing.”

Not Forgotten is the latest work of artist Geraldine Pilgrim, whose installations reveal memories and atmospheres, as well as the history of the space. It is something of a coup for Pennine Lancashire that the first commission of this flagship project has been awarded to Geraldine Pilgrim, a highly acclaimed artist whose previous work has been commissioned by organisations as varied as Girl Guides UK, English Heritage, The National Review of Live Art Festival, The National Trust and Liverpool’s Bluecoat Gallery.

The Not Forgotten installation, commissioned for Towneley Hall and Park, has been inspired by a distinctive portrait of John and Mary Towneley and their seven sons and seven daughters. The work will enable people to experience Towneley in new ways and will cast light on elements of the history of the location that present a compelling meditation on memory and loss.

Mid Pennine Arts have been working with Mike Townend, Towneley’s Senior Curator to develop the programme. Mike said: “We’re looking at new ways of using our collections – so to have provided the inspiration for a nationally recognised contemporary artist is fantastic. We really hope this will engage people and take contemporary art to a new audience.”

“People will begin to see Towneley in new ways - with installations in both the grounds and the Hall. You can stand in a window at Towneley and look out at the installation in the landscape and it gives the place a different perspective. We call it ‘Looking in: looking out’. “

Mid Pennine Arts Creative Director Nick Hunt, said: “Towneley are great partners and we are really excited that Contemporary Heritage is set to launch at Towneley. It’s a really fitting location for Geraldine Pilgrim’s installations and I’m sure Not Forgotten will prove to be extremely engaging and memorable.”

He added: “This marks the latest step for Mid Pennine Arts’ ambitions to see Pennine Lancashire become an arts, culture and heritage destination. Mid Pennine Arts bring art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.”