Low-Budget Digital Marketing Ideas for SMEs

Most SMEs are cost-conscious. 

We have to be. We’re good at finding ways to trim budgets while boosting the bottom line and making the money we have go far.

But how do you harness that savvy thinking when it comes to the ever-changing world of digital marketing? 

Thankfully, we’re here to help! 

Read on to find our top tips for rolling out brilliant digital marketing that will reach customers and convert leads without costing you a fortune. So long as you have some time and are willing, you can still achieve great success with digital marketing, even on a shoestring.

CREATE CONTENT 

Give Your Content Some Love

Creating brilliant content around your USP is one of the most powerful things you can do for free to get your brand out there. Remember that old marketing saying – Content is King? Well, it’s as true today as it has ever been. Despite the huge economy around content marketing, 

you don’t need to run ad campaigns or sponsored posts to get traction on social posts, and you just have to be posting the right content.

Here’s the advice we always come back to when helping clients think about what content will work for them:

  • Write content specific to your business goals
  • Ensure your content is written with your audience in mind
  • Set your own writing goals and principles (is your company tone friendly, approachable, formal or educational?)

Your choice of content will depend on what type of business you are, and where you have the greatest successes will be affected by many different factors. For most start-ups and SMEs, LinkedIn is the perfect starting point for sharing content, but most companies can also find great success with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok.

Create Multi-Purpose Content 

A great ‘cheat’ when it comes to content marketing is to remember that one piece of content can be leveraged in several ways. For example, perhaps you have published a white paper on your blog. Firstly, make sure you share it across your social channels, but then have a think about how you can extrude other content from it – could you make an infographic from the findings? Is there a great quote you could pull out and make into a graphic tile? Free resources such as Canva are great for creating simple graphics that can make your content work harder and go further.

Record Videos

We say it over and over – video is one of the best formats for sharing content online. Facebook alone boasts more than 4 billion video views per day, and all you have to do is look at the success of video platforms to understand that it’s the most effective and digestible way to present content in 2021.

Many startups and SMEs are nervous about producing their own video content, but it doesn’t need to be daunting. Videos do not need to be professionally recorded to be successful – a smartphone can work well to create short, engaging videos that entice customers. Showing the face behind the business is a really effective way to build trust in your company, so don’t shy away from putting yourself out there and heading up some video content.

THINK SEO

Smaller companies are often put off by SEO, and we get it. It can seem like an overwhelming task to optimize your web presence, but it is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase traffic to your site and improve your organic reach.

Keep It Local

An approachable way to tackle SEO is to focus on local SEO. While national SEO is driven by ranking in searches across the country, local SEO prioritises appearing in specific locations, making it more relevant to your base of local customers; plus, it’s free!

Local SEO can be time-consuming. However, the benefits over time can be huge, so it’s well worth investing some time into these SEO must-dos:

  • Add location-based keywords to the titles, headings, and body of your main website pages (think: “Oxford accountant”)
  • Get your company listed in online directories, ensuring your information is identical across platforms.
  • Create content on your blog specific to the neighbourhood you serve. 

Leverage Online Review Sites 

User-generated content is win-win. It’s great because it increases trust and confidence in your brand, and it also requires very little work from you! Oh, and it’s brilliant for SEO.

Encourage reviews on Google or Trustpilot, and (if the feedback is positive) leverage those testimonials by using them on your website and in your digital marketing content. 

Create a free Google My Business Profile

For local businesses especially, a Google Business Profile is one of the most effective free marketing strategies available. Taking advantage of this free listing allows your business to show up on Google Maps, the local section of Google Search, and the right-side Knowledge Panel for branded searches.

GET CREATIVE

Small budgets often require out-of-the-box thinking, so why not consider some of these creative ideas to take your marketing to the next level without splurging your budget?

Produce Your Own Podcast

The popularity of podcasts shows no sign of slowing down, and they can be a great way to connect with your audience. Why not think about reusing content, and record your first podcasts using old blog content? Promote through your social channels and respond to your audience’s needs and interests to create a cost-effective marketing product that your customers enjoy.

Run Webinars

If the last 16 months have taught us anything, it’s that video conferencing is a very powerful tool. Webinars are a free way to promote your business by providing helpful information to a wide potential customer base, no matter their location. In addition, they can be used to boost conversions, improve brand awareness and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Ensure you promote your webinar through your social media channels ahead of time and send reminder emails to registrants, so they don’t miss it. As a bonus, webinars will help you build your email list. 

Enter Awards

You’ll find that most industries have business awards that you can enter. Some charge, but many are free. If you win or are even shortlisted, you can shout about your accolade on social media, giving your customers even more reasons to trust your company. You also may gain some press coverage if you win, so it’s well worth taking the time to fill out the application form to highlight the work you are most proud of.

Shoestring Digital Marketing

Ultimately, marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are hundreds of tactics out there that can be really effective with a small budget, you just need to commit some time and energy, and you’ll soon be seeing results.

for loads more small business marketing tips, click here.

5 Minutes with Kathy Koomson

We sat down (virtually) with Kathy Koomson, Head of Brand and Marketing at Core Talent, to find out more about marketing in the world of recruitment, the changes the industry has seen over the past ten years, and what the future holds.

Hi Kathy, thanks for chatting with Colour Me Social! Tell us about your background before joining Core Talent?

I’ve been in marketing for over 20 years and just been elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Before I joined Core Talent, I worked as a Commercial Manager and Head of Product for an English manufacturer – that role gave me an excellent insight into Engineering & Manufacturing. Before that, I was at Bank of America/MBNA for 10 years and held various positions in marketing. During my last role, I was Head of Retail Strategy and managed the Retail Strategy Team, which was financially results-driven and creative.

What prompted you to move into recruitment marketing?

Core Talent asked me to come in on a contract basis and help initially as they wanted a new website. However, the further I got into the business, it became clear that it was an exciting growing business. A new website would not do it justice, so we completely rebranded and repositioned the company with a new logo, colour palette, and imagery. We even developed our values with input from clients, candidates, and employees. I have been with Core Talent for almost five years now. Recruitment Marketing is exciting and fast-paced; you need to be creative to appeal to candidates with job opportunities, informative to clients, and persuasive to potential employees. It’s a very stimulating company to be part of.

How does Core Talent help businesses?

We’re a specialist, engineering & manufacturing, construction, and consultancy business, and now we work globally across the UK, Europe, the USA and China. Our Directors actually transitioned from engineering and purchasing into recruitment, so they worked in the industries we recruit, adding significant value to technical knowledge and ability. We’re not a generalist recruiter – we really understand our clients’ needs.

We have consultants working in very niche markets, and they get to understand the client, the candidates, and the actual market incredibly well, so we’ve got some excellent knowledge. 

We recently developed our consultancy division, Tactical Consultancy. So we offer more than a recruitment service. We can re-engineer recruitment processes, manage a temporary workforce down to the payroll, provide competitor intelligence, support social media activity all support and improve our client’s recruitment processes. So we help clients in a lot of different ways. 

What does your role entail? 

My remit is the internal and external brand. So I’m looking at anything related to communications, branding, our messages, external brand, and internally. I am also responsible for introducing new products and innovation in the business and managing performance and spend on job boards and advertising platforms. As our consultancy division grows, I support clients with their social media and marketing, which is an exciting new angle to my role.

What does an average day as Head of Brand and Marketing look like?

On a typical day for me, I’ll come in and check my emails, and then I develop social media posts. I will also review the current performance of Core Talent and our client’s social media activities. As I manage the website and job boards, I will also analyse performance and ensure the consultants are supported with any queries.

I will also produce collateral, presentations, and pitches for new clients. Or I could be briefing our creative agencies or be speaking to Phil at Colour Me Social about social media activity. I often attend various meetings with consultants or the Directors who’ve got a particular challenge or particular piece of support they need. 

So, it’s pretty well rounded – it’s not just about the marketing. It’s about supporting the business, clients, and candidates using my expertise and experience. 

How would you say recruitment differs from other industries when it comes to marketing?

With recruitment, three key audiences are always at the centre of what we do – candidates, clients and employees/ potential employees.

We moved from a candidate-rich, job-short market to a job-rich, candidate-short market, so we have to work even harder to get exactly the right people for our top jobs.

With clients – it’s about bringing new ones in and supporting the clients we have. For the other audiences, our people, it’s essential to keep them engaged and happy at work. We are on a recruitment drive and always looking for new employees. This could be experienced recruitment consultants, trainees, or graduates – we want to attract those kinds of people into the business, so we need to demonstrate what it’s like to work for us. Everything we do needs to ensure that all of those audiences are considered.

How has the role of marketing within recruitment changed in the last ten years?

Years ago, you could put a job on a job board, and you’d probably more or less fill that job from that advert. But now, it’s about a lot more than that. You can’t just put a job on a job board and think it’s gonna drive people; you have to have an online presence, offer a variety of services and have an extensive network. So it’s critical, now, I think, to have a marketer within a recruitment business to support recruitment activities and the company. So it’s a lot more popular now to find experienced marketers and agencies than ever because recruitment really does need it. 

What marketing trends can you see happening in recruitment?

LinkedIn has become more and more popular for many recruiters; I see a lot of firms invest a lot more in terms of LinkedIn. They’re also changing how they communicate on social platforms – it’s much more creative, whether it’s white papers or explainer videos. This is true of Twitter, as well, but to a lesser degree. So there’s a lot more investment going into social media now than there was before. 

Also, as we see in other industries, a lot more digital technology is coming into the recruitment market that supports consultants and candidates. Video interviews, for example, have been invaluable over the last 15 months. However, I don’t think human contact should or will ever be replaced in the processes, but there will be many more shifts in the next few years with these great new technologies being introduced.

How has Core Talent changed in the Covid-era?

It has been difficult, as it has for everyone. We had to rebuild our workforce and restructure to enhance our offering in the US and Europe. Business areas like international construction and data centre construction continued to perform really well, as mission-critical projects were still ongoing. In contrast, other markets went a lot quieter during the first lockdown. So as a business, we’ve spent the last 12 months really looking at our markets, expanding further in the areas where we see more significant growth, like E-mobility, autonomous vehicles and AI, and dealing with our usual fields of construction and manufacturing.

Finally, what is the best marketing campaign you’ve seen?

There have been so many excellent campaigns I have seen and experienced over the years. I admire the teams who have created the current public health campaigns we have all been exposed to over the last 15 months. They have had to get the information and strategy out to the whole country in a short space of time and ensure that the core message is memorable and easy to follow.

There are also two above-the-line advertising campaigns that I have always loved. The Guinness Surfer/Horses advert and the Dairy Milk Gorilla advert. The mix of cinematography, the characters, the straplines ‘good things come to those who wait’ and ‘a glass and a half full of joy’ set against the musical score all contribute to these adverts being some of the greatest and most memorable of all time.

5 Minutes with John Ashton

John Ashton spent his time writing for national newspapers and authoring books before coming up with an idea for a company in 2012 that put his talents to exceptionally good use.

Write Arm is a flexible writing resource for marketers. They provide companies with writers when they need them to create any type of written content – from exquisitely crafted straplines to blogs, scripts and books.

In 2020 he set up The KitchenTable Community, which is a peer-to-peer support community and marketplace for the owners and would-be owners of small creative agencies.

We spoke to John Ashton to find out more about the company, and to get his top tips on brilliant copywriting.

Hi John, thanks for chatting with Colour Me Social! What inspired you to start Write Arm?

I started the company in 2012 – I was thinking at the time, what’s my next career move? I thought about becoming a freelance writer again and I realised I wanted to build something bigger and flexible and more of the moment.

I hadn’t worked in the marketing world before then, so I knew nothing of it. I just took the plunge, with no idea whether it would float or not, but it did – much to my amazement and delight!

We started with just a small handful of writers; more and more have found us along the way, and we go out and find writers too – we’ve got scores of them now!

How do you work with businesses?

We do everything with the written word – broadly it breaks down into two types: on the one hand you’ve got content marketing such as articles, whitepapers, case studies, e-books; the other side is creative copywriting, things like static web copy, brochures and email sequences – anything that has a more overt marketing function than content marketing.

What type of businesses do you work with?

Anything from a small SME to multinational giants – we’ll work with any sizes of business, but we prefer to work with those with a marketing department. We work in numerous sectors; the ones that have been particularly strong for us have been tech, financial services and HR/recruitment.

What’s the motivation for businesses to come to you?

It’s very often the case that they just don’t have the resources internally. We work on an ad hoc basis, we don’t tend to charge retainers, which works for us because the clients don’t need us all the time. They often have people in-house who do some of the writing, but then they just get swamped.

What would you say are the main challenges you see your clients facing when it comes to content and copywriting?

The chief challenge is finding the right person to do the work. There are millions of freelancers out there but actually sourcing them and managing them is the real challenge. We’ve got where we are today by answering that need, by solving that problem.

How has your business changed in the Covid-era?

Well, we’ve always been remote. That’s the beauty of Write Arm. The staff work remotely, as do I, and all the writers work remotely. So we were geared up for it.

At the start COVID, everything went quiet for a week, but then it got very, very busy, and we’ve never been busier. I think it’s largely a legacy of working in tech – so many tech niches are buoyant at the moment, and we’re a beneficiary of that.

What’s your top tip for brilliant copywriting?

Great copywriting has to spell out the benefits of a product or service. Or if it’s not a product or service, then drive the message in a way that appeals to the heart, the head, and do so in as few words as possible.

Finally, what advice would you offer to small business owners to help them tell their story?

Invest in copy – it can make all the difference.

5 Minutes With Lucy Paine

Welcome to the third instalment in our series of blogs that look at all aspects of the challenges facing small businesses. For our third edition, we sat down with Lucy Paine from TechSpark who is leading their Tech Swindon ecosystem development project.

What was your background prior to Tech Swindon?

Very varied, I have worked for Pre IPO start-ups in Silicon Valley, within tech and education companies in sales, partner management and marketing, run my own business and most recently spent almost five years at Sussex Innovation Centre putting all my knowledge, experience and connections into helping other people grow their companies, or take their idea into reality.

Most of my roles have been around people and collaboration looking back but I can’t claim that there was a plan.

How do you help support small businesses in your role?

Tech Swindon is a new initiative focussed upon glueing together all the great tech scene in Swindon to then nurture and develop into a community able to challenge for talent against the shiny lights of cities like Bristol and Brighton.

The support we offer ranges from creating a peer-driven Swindon Founders meet up through to one to one strategy workshops – I’m a resource for the SME tech community and what that looks like is flexible as we evolve the proposition and meet more companies.

What inspires you about working with small businesses?

Helping them progress, as a neutral resource I offer can a sounding board, challenge strategy, help them test assumptions, build a team – we are a not for profit and I am not trying to upsell services. The success of Tech Swindon will be reflected by the growth of our small business community, and I hope some of that will come from the confidence and intelligence of the support delivered.

In your opinion how important is growing your small business network, building relationships and nurturing connections to help grow a business compared to other sales/marketing activities?

There are two angles to this question – firstly running a business can be really hard, lonely and having a network of fellow founders means you can share your issues/ highs and lows with a group of peers who understand and can help.

Secondly, the old cliché of people buying people is still true even in 2020 – and through networking, you’ll meet clients, partners and connectors you’d never build any depth of credible relationship with on LinkedIn. Just be picky with your networking, but when you find a group that works commit, go each month and build meaningful engagement, don’t expect a sale, hope for an interesting conversation and it will be worth your time.

You can also use this networking to support your sales and marketing, get onto social, take a photo of the group, tag the organiser, attendees you met etc and add an intelligent comment that they will all share – again do this with integrity and they’ll start sharing your message.

What are the main challenges you see SMEs face in doing this?

Time v perceived value – I have seen some companies go to every networking event going for two months, then decide none are worth it so don’t leave the office for the rest of the year. Research a meeting, check out the attendee list and if no one there is remotely in your space don’t go – find your tribe but also throw in a random one with an interesting speaker.

I think a lot of people worry about how false networking can be, and the first time is always awkward, but the second time you’ll recognise the faces and the conversations will develop from weather to something more meaningful.

I am avoiding the word useful, just sounds too manipulative – if you only look for useful you’ll miss interesting and genuine connections are more to lead to a referral than useful ones. We’ve all met the person who starts with asking what do you do, and looks over your shoulder as soon as he/she has decided you’re not going to buy what he is selling – don’t be that person.

How do you see small business networking, building relationships and nurturing connections changing in the future? Will Tech play a bigger role?

Tech hasn’t mastered the complexities of an in-person networking connection, LinkedIn is great to keep in touch, and webinars for quick calls or training, but we get so much more done in person.

It’s just like dating, apps and matchmaking platforms all sound great, but you only know when you meet someone if it’s going to work. And while business is a different transaction the trust you build in those first meetings is why you buy/ sell/ recommend/ partner with someone.

What is the most powerful networking event you have been involved with?

Powerful networking to me is a group where I feel comfortable, with familiar faces and new ones, in a non-sales environment where the room wants to hear more about you without judgement and who are themselves well connected and able to help you make connections that impact your business – that’s the utopia of networking and very rare.

In Brighton that was the Brighton Chamber Breakfast and their success was underpinned by the team and the culture of the Chamber – there was the odd salesperson but they didn’t tend to come back, they’d missed the point!

Do you have any final words of advice for small business owners wanting to improve their network and their networking skills?

Make time for networking, research the groups around you and try a few. Prepare your 30 second “What does your business do” reply, make it natural and interesting – and then listen to all the replies you get.

LinkedIn with the people you enjoyed meeting, ignore the invitations of the ones you didn’t and commit to going to the group that has the most relevance for at least 6 months, offer to talk, offer to sponsor a lunch/ charity event and see this time as a business and personal investment.

5 Minutes with Michael Gegg

What was your background prior to South Thames Marketing?

Immediately prior to setting up South Thames Marketing, I was head of global marketing for two of Hay Group’s (a management consulting firm) four business divisions. I left Hay after four wonderful years following its acquisition by Korn Ferry. Prior to that, I was head of international marketing and events for several years at Kenexa (now part of IBM). And back in the early days, I held marketing roles at a couple of psychometric testing and recruitment firms. So, my background has always been within the professional services space.

What inspired you to set up South Thames Marketing?

As with a lot of things in life, it was circumstance! I’d left Korn Ferry and was weighing up my next move. I’d always passionately wanted to launch my own consultancy and it felt this was the right time. Three years on, I wouldn’t look back. What inspired me? Having worked my entire career in professional services, I wanted to give back; supporting firms to just get better at their marketing. Working with clients of all different sizes gives me some great diversity, but actually working with an independent consultant or a big four management consulting firm, they have similar marketing challenges, just on a different scale.

How does South Thames Marketing help professional services businesses?

We support firms in several ways. Firstly from a strategy and planning perspective. Getting under the skin of what they are currently doing, assessing what they want to achieve brand and lead-gen wise and developing a strategy accordingly. From there we either hand that over for them to implement, or clients may ask us to support in certain areas (content creation, social media, creative design, campaign development etc) because they haven’t the internal resource themselves, or in some instances outsource their marketing in its entirety to us. We also support several international firms with European expansion or expansion into Asia. But in the first instance, we get to know the client and what they are looking to achieve and build from there.

What are the main marketing challenges professional services companies face?

Great question. There are several. But I think for me the biggest is staying relevant. The web is awash with content: white papers, blogs, videos all addressing a topic – it could be Brexit, it could be productivity, it could be attracting and retaining the best talent. The challenge is getting their voice heard over everyone else who is trying to have a say on that topic. Relevance is so important.

How can professional services professionals/companies stand out from the crowd?

Being human. Too many firms will try and cram every buzzword they know into a piece because they believe it adds credence. But at the end of the day you are writing (or presenting to) another human being –  I guess it could be a robot in the future! – so you need to write accordingly. My biggest tip always is when you’ve written something, read it back to yourself and then ask the question ‘if you’re sitting opposite that person in a business meeting or pitch’ is that how you would speak? If not, then start again. We’re all humans, including your clients!

How would you say professional services companies differ from other industries when it comes to marketing?

I’m probably biased here, but I think if you can succeed in professional services marketing, you can succeed in any industry. Working in professional services you are challenged every day. That could be with the quality of content/materials you have to produce to stay relevant or stakeholders you have to manage in-house, who all have an opinion that is apparently right! Succeed in this market and you’ll succeed in others. Yes, I know every sector will probably say similar, but come and spend a month in professional services and let’s have a conversation after!

What trends can you see happening in professional services marketing?

It’s already happening. More and more firms are adopting the new exciting digital technologies that are out there. The key is integrating your tech stack and maximising the insights you gain from the data.

What’s the best marketing campaign you have been involved in?

One of the last campaigns we rolled out at Hay Group was a campaign that explored the connection between employee and customer engagement. At its core was a report, where we’d undertaken an in-depth survey, but we’d then managed to interview and involve several of our clients from around the world. This was important as it added credence to our voice, but also allowed us to offer some incredibly interesting global insights plus the opportunity to create a number of supporting assets: extended case studies, blogs, videos etc. We rolled out the campaign in a crazy number of countries around the world, working with our local marketing colleagues, who we had to influence that this campaign would work in their particular market. In our planning we fully involved our local marketers, so we adapted versions of the report for different markets – this is so important. We held webinars together with in-person Forums in a number of cities. I attended the London, New York, Madrid and Sao Paulo Forums in person and seeing the report in multiple languages, speakers talking so passionately and importantly just seeing it resonate with every audience member was fantastic. The ROI we achieved was outstanding. Because we had involved clients and worked closely with them in the final report, we also managed to partner with the internal PR departments of some of them, which gave us huge traction when approaching the media. But, I cannot take the full credit, my marketing manager at the time, Louise Shaw, who is now doing fantastic stuff at Deloitte in Australia – I’m really, really proud of her, drove it and the success was 100 per cent down to her. As a leader, there is no better feeling than seeing someone on your team really thrive.

What is the best marketing campaign you’ve seen?

I’m not sure the best, but I love the Adobe marketing cloud ads – if you’ve not seen them definitely check them out!

Do you have any final words of advice for professional services companies wanting to tell their story/better their marketing efforts?

I just refer to what I said earlier, please, please remember your clients and prospective clients are human beings!

5 Minutes with Joseph Bradfield

Welcome to the first in a new series of blogs that look at all aspects of the challenges facing small businesses. For our first edition, we sat down with Joseph Bradfield from the business support incubator Sussex Innovation Centre (SINC), to find out how small businesses can better use PR.

What’s your role at SINC?

I spend about half my time promoting what SINC does and the other half working as a consultant with our members. The consultancy part of my role involves helping businesses define their message and helping them better tell their story.

I also run workshops helping businesses find the most compelling message about their product and help with topline communications strategy. I help people write press releases and stories and find contacts in the media, and I will occasionally do a bit of copy editing for people, all sorts really, anything communications related.

How does the Sussex Innovation Centre help small businesses?

SINC is a business incubation network, supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups across the South East. Marketing is one key service we offer. Essentially we provide some of the functions that you might get by employing an agency, but we try to find ways of making it more lean and cost-effective. 

One of the ways we do that is through the support of the catalyst team, a graduate scheme of recent Sussex grads who assist the startups with on the ground, day-to-day work. They’re overseen by our senior team and learn crucial skills. The scheme offers a more cost-effective option for the startups as it means we can support them at a much cheaper rate, at a point when they don’t necessarily have the budget to recruit a team of seasoned pros.

Small businesses seem to be talking a lot nowadays about social media and email marketing, but less so about PR and communications. Why do you think that is?

I think PR is a bit of a mystery to a lot of small businesses, it feels like something that’s off in the distance that only big companies do. Social media is something that everyone uses day to day for their own social lives so there’s a lower barrier to entry because you understand the rules, but PR is not really that different from social media – it’s about starting conversations with people, trying to find common ground on things they’ll be interested in and leveraging that to help spread the word through those third parties. 

The problem is, people don’t necessarily know as much about the internal workings of a newspaper. Knowing who to approach is a genuine barrier to entry and it’s something that a large proportion of the costs that an agency will ask for come from. 

For the national press, it’s about finding the one person within the publication who focuses on the niche subject area that you’re trying to position your story for. For the trade press, it’s about finding those smaller publications who may only have 4,000-5,000 readers but they’re actually interested in your industry and are interested to read what you have to say. Generally, for the national press, they’ll be looking for an unusual angle or something they’ve not heard before that’s entirely new to the wider public. For the trade press, you can get a lot more opinion pieces.

Social media and PR really are two sides of the same coin – you can identify which journalists are writing about specific topics from their twitter feed. Rather than going to somebody with a pre-built story and trying to convince them it’s something they should write about, the best way of getting good PR is to spot when a journalist has got a question they can’t answer, usually they’ll be asking around on twitter about it and inserting yourself into that conversation as a forerunner to being their trusted authority on the subject. It’s important to respond as quickly as you can – the 24-hour news cycle means that most journalists want to wrap up whatever story they’re currently working on so they can move on to the next one.

How do you suggest preparing to jump on those key moments?

Everything you do should be focused on preparing the material you can repurpose again and again. Get yourself some good photography because most stories are gonna need a striking image to go alongside them, get yourself a decent relatively brief bio that outlines who you are, the key points of what your personal journey is and what 3-5 topics you can talk about with authority. And then it’s playing the waiting game. You might have to do a bit of reshaping when a particular story comes along, but you’ve got 90% of the work done already so you can fire off a tweet or respond with an email to somebody when a story happens. 

If there’s a breaking news story in your field then that’s the time to go to your list of journalists in a spreadsheet and say ‘in light of today’s news, I’m free to comment’. Usually the journalists are desperate for that. Just think – they have to fill 100 pages of space a day if they are working on a national newspaper, even more through their online channels, and most of the time they understand a bit about the industry but they’re not experts in it. Having an authority to give them a couple of paragraphs of context really makes the story.

So if you’re a small business and you want to announce a new product launch for instance, but you haven’t got breaking news to jump on, what strategy should a business consider?

It’s worth writing a launch press release because it gets your name out there, but the likelihood is that it’s not going to get picked up unless somebody has a segment that it’s perfect for, for instance a weekly app roundup. In which case, find out who writes that feature and send it to them – a lot of people try to sell their product without understanding the publication they’re speaking to. You have to remember they’re incredibly busy people getting hundreds of emails a day, so you’re basically trying to do half of their job for them. If you can format things to fit with what they’re looking for that’s going to help as well, so if you look at that app review segment and see that each one has a screenshot of the front page of the app next to it then send them that screenshot.

What trends can you see happening in PR?

The Hero’s Journey is a big talking point right now. Recently it’s been something that’s been applied to the entrepreneur’s journey, it’s a way of framing your story that’s a bit more compelling than just saying ‘this is my product, this is what it does for people.’ The Hero’s Journey encourages you to tell the story of why you built your product, as well as revealing what things have got in the way as you’ve tried to build the product. It’s more human, more real – those are the bits people learn from. 

Think about the film The Social Network – the bit that’s interesting about the Facebook story is Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room getting in trouble with the university because he’d stolen loads of data. That’s the bit they made a movie about, not the bit about Facebook being a giant multibillion dollar company. Please don’t take that as an endorsement of stealing people’s data!

What’s the best PR/communications campaign you have been involved in?

There’s a guy in the Life Sciences department here at the University of Sussex who studies the biochemistry of fungi – he has developed a chemical compound that can be used to make fungicides more effective and prevent fungi from developing a resistance. He was having a lot of trouble finding a big industrial partner to work with who saw the potential of the idea. Then researchers studying these compounds found that the same chemical process could be used to treat the ash dieback disease that’s affecting trees – now that made for a much bigger news story as it was a country wide issue which lots of publications were already covering, and had more human interest. There are only so many farmers but everyone likes going for a walk in the woodlands. 

The way we positioned that story – the headline was New Chemical Compound May Help Us To Fight Losing the Ash tree – but the second half of the press release said this is just one of many applications of this technology, we’re looking to explore how it could be used to protect cereal crops. The ash dieback story was on BBC news and the Farmers Guardian picked it up. Then, an agrochemical chemical company got in touch and were interested in developing the product to help protect cereal crops. It’s about leaping on the bit of the story that’s news and using that as an opportunity to talk about the bit that you’re really interested in selling.

What is the best PR campaign you’ve seen?

Great PR campaigns make use of whatever resources you have at your disposal. If you look at Spotify, the one thing they’ve got is tonnes and tonnes of data about what people are listening to, so they make that the central appeal of all of their marketing.

They’ll send out a story every week saying, for instance, this Valentine’s Day we noticed people are listening to a lot of ‘I’m All Outta Love’ and ‘Without You’. It’s part of their billboard campaigns, part of their advertising campaigns and also part of their PR strategy. The best campaigns are aligned with all of your other marketing, you dig out the bits that make for the most interesting story. Lots of the companies we work with have those kind of stories because data is becoming more and more of an integral part of startup culture.

Most companies will have some kind of data-based piece they can put out. Journalists like charts, infographics, top ten lists. It’s an easy sell because you can immediately picture what the published story looks like. One of the clients in my last job was a home insurance provider and we used to do a story every year gathering the reports of all of their home inspection people to find out what things people had flushed down and blocked the drain. We would pick out the funny ones – the fringe cases that could be the headline. One guy who got called out found half a roast chicken in someones U bend – that got the journalists’ attention!

Do you have any final words of advice for small businesses wanting to pitch their story?

A good way of thinking about it is the old BBC slogan – Inform, Educate, Entertain – those are the three pillars of what makes a good PR story. You want to either tell people how to do something, educate them about something they know nothing about or entertain them. Ideally all three. At least one of them is usually a good place to start. 

Thanks to Joseph for taking time to chat with us – look out for the next ‘5 Minutes with…’ soon!

Social media should not be ignored by B2B companies: Here’s why

Let’s talk social media. We’ve noticed that our clients who sell to customers ‘get’ social media – the benefits are obvious. Less so with B2B firms – they wonder if the benefits are really worth the effort. Writing blogs, creating videos and images all cost time and money. We believe that when done right, it is worth the effort and the payoffs can be significant. It’s our job after all! Here’s why…

Show the human side of your business

Whilst consumer choices are emotionally driven, business decisions are largely rational. Or are they? We’ve all heard the idea that people buy people, not things. This is especially true in the case of B2B services. Providers often win because of the emotional response to the team they present at a pitch, and the relationships they build up over time.

By establishing a social media presence, you allow potential clients to see the human side of the business. This lets people see who works for you, which is important, but it also showcases your values as an organisation. You can show people that you’re the type of person they want to work with, which can leave a meaningful impression.

Promote your thinking

Most experts in a field have something interesting to say, a perspective on current affairs and events in their industry – and social media is a great way to promote your angle, story and take on things. You might choose to focus on future trends in your industry or reflect on past events, talk about products and services or the values and theories that underpin what you do. Whatever you choose to write about, getting it out there is key in making it worthwhile.

According to The State of Digital Marketing in 2017 report, blog posts and articles are considered the best way to generate and engage an interested following, and ultimately convert some of these into leads.

Gain trust

Perhaps the default method of checking out a new firm is to Google them. Of course, it’s our immediate response, followed by checking whether any of our trusted contacts have any experience with them. Social media is good for both these things – it offers a window into the community you’ve endeavored to build around your firm, through your social media marketing efforts. It also offers prospectives a quick route to testimonials, recommendations, and Q&As, which all leads to bolstering credibility.

Harness your video content

People are increasingly getting used to having complex concepts explained to them in video format. Cisco reckons 75% of all mobile traffic will be video by 2021. So what’s this got to do with social media? It offers the ideal platform for hosting and distributing video, allowing people to engage with it, and if it’s really good, share it and extend its impact. It’s also one of the most cost-effective forms of social media marketing with a high return on advertising spend (ROAS).

So whatever your position on social media, and take on specific platforms, we think there’s something out there that could be of benefit. As with anything, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution – and you may well be right that you can’t see your services doing well on Facebook, for example. But, given the time and thought, the benefits we’ve discussed are available to all B2B firms, and they should be considered as part of any digital marketing strategy. You might just find that they start to open some new doors for you.

6 Skills Your Social Media Manager Must Possess!

What is the difference between internet marketing and traditional marketing? There are a lot of differences of course, like the goal of the strategy, the promotional channels used etc.

Over time, the gap between the internet and traditional marketing got smaller. Nowadays, we can even say that internet marketing is not the only type, but certainly the main type of marketing that companies use. It might not be a 100% the case but the market is moving in that direction. It’s possible that soon all marketing activities will be digital.

Social media plays a huge part in digital marketing. As a startup company or small business, you must have someone that will ensure that your online presence and branding is the best it can be. Remember, the look, the message and your social media responsiveness affect how the general public or your potential customers perceive your business. Social media along with your website are the first things people see. And we all know how important first impressions are.

Having someone that will dedicate their time and effort on your social media presence is definitely something you should do.  It is a complex position because you will need to find someone that has a certain set of skills and experience in order to manage your social media effectively. So what type of a skill set should a social media manager possess in order to be successful?

We have prepared a list of six most important skills that great social media manager must possess.

Take a look:

  1. Basic Graphic Design Skills

It’s a well-known fact that social media is getting visual. A good social media manager must possess basic graphic design skills. What we understand as basic graphic designs skills are: creativity and colour sense.  In other words, the ability to think graphically. We are putting aside the knowledge of graphic design software because there are a lot of free online tools that are easy to use and navigate. For instance, Fotor and Canva can do miracles. They have everything every social media manager needs to create the perfect graphic solution.

  1. A passion for writing

Blogging is an important part of your internet marketing strategy. Ideally, your social media manager will have a passion for writing and be able to write at least one blog per week that will address your target audience. Knowing how to create the perfect social media post requires writing abilities and creativity. Buffer has very useful tips from proven blogging gurus that must be the core values of your blogging activity.

  1. Understanding content curation and strategy

Every social media manager knows that content can do wonders for social media growth. Sometimes experience is not required, but a mindset that recognises the need to curate or create content that will be customer centric. In other words, indirectly selling your services by promoting content that will address the issues your business can fix. HubSpot has amazing tools you can use for content curation while Mention will show you what are the true benefits of content curation.

  1. Social media advertising knowledge

Social media advertising is crucial for the growth of your business. A good social media manager has to know how to set up paid campaigns, define the target audience and create suitable visuals for the ads. It sounds pretty simple, right? But in order to have effective social media ads, you must test a few alternatives, measure the performance through A/B testing and focus on the best performing ads for your target audience.

  1. A Lust for social media knowledge

Digital marketing it’s a fast-changing industry. To stay on the top of the game you must follow marketing trends, apply new tools and try new things constantly. The will to constantly work in a dynamic environment and learn new things is an important skill you should look for in your future social media manager.

6. The Growth Hack Mind Set 

Working constantly on growth is a must activity. You need a person that will know your target audience and work on growing your following online base every day.

If you fail to find the right team or person, we can help! We have years of social media management experience. We can make your social media presence spotless. If you want your business to bloom online and enter the social media renaissance era, contact us. Drop us a line here: [email protected]

What is the philosophy behind Facebook dark posts?

Facebook is one of the greatest paid online advertising platforms in the new digital marketing world. Facebook gave the marketers a whole new set of tools and insights and a place where they can achieve great results. Even though the newly updated ad platform is great, there are a lot of things that look complex and hard to use at first sight.

As a small business or entrepreneur getting to know the platform can be time-consuming. But if you separate the new things into small chunks of information then you will learn the new functionalities faster. We will help you with understanding the Facebook ad platform better. In our series of articles, we will explain everything in detail so you can easily navigate and get the maximum out of the platform. Stay tuned!

Today, we look at one of the platform’s most useful offerings: Facebook dark posts (unpublished posts). The things you can do with dark posts can really improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaign and your results at the end of the day.

What’s the philosophy behind the dark posts?

The philosophy behind it is to create several posts with different styles and wording which you can use to for tests in your paid campaigns.

Why are they called dark posts?

Because they don’t get published on your Facebook Fan page unless you choose to do so.

Why use Facebook dark posts?

There are several reasons why you should use dark posts, however, the most important one is that you can run tests and see what set of wording and imagery works best for your target audience.

More specifically, you should use dark posts for the following reasons:

  1. You can do paid tests for multiple ad variations

You can create as many variations as you like. Applying different images, headlines, call to action buttons will help in determining the effectiveness of your paid campaigns. Use your imagination and find out what best works for your business.

  1. You can improve your organic traffic

You can improve your organic traffic by sharing the variation that has the best results on your news feed. Once you’ve determined which combinations perform the best, apply them to your organic posts for better reach and engagement.

  1. You will avoid ad only streams

If you want to avoid ad only streams then the dark posts are the right way to do it. Facebook dark posts are niche and hyper sensitive so you will avoid the risk of boring and pushing away your audience with the same Call to Action button and unnecessary ads.

How to create dark posts?

In order to create the dark post, you must enter the page posts in the create and manage section. There you can create limitless posts and decide whether you would like to keep them as dark posts or publish them on your timeline.

One thing to remember is that you cannot edit the posts once you have created them. Nothing on the created dark post is editable once you have saved it. So be careful otherwise you will have to start all over again and create a new post from the start.

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How to create advert from your dark posts?

After you have created the dark post, you have to select it and choose to create advert from the actions drop down menu.

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When you click on the create advert you will get a pop-up on which you have to define your campaign and ad set. The pop-up is only for the defining the name and the objective, later you will dig in deeper in defining other specifics about your target audience and budget.

How to activate your advert?

The next step is to define the target audience, budget and the objectives of the campaign. Your campaign will still be the draft until you click on the review changes button at the top right corner. Do not forget! After you set everything up you need to click on the green button in the top right corner in order to activate your campaign.

And that’s it! You are all set. It is a process and you will get better in time but if you need help with anything we are here for you. We have the right expertise and ideas on how to improve your performance.

Feel free to contact us for anything here: http://colourmesocialtwo.clicthru.co.uk/get-in-touch/