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Instagram Stories are a perfect way to tell your customers more

Instagram is currently used by over 200 million people each month, with 60 million photos uploaded every day with 1.6 billion likes. It’s a growing social media platform, which some people love, whilst others “don’t get”.

As a business, it’s an area you should certainly be considering using. Even if it’s just noticing what’s going on and seeing if your ideal customers are using instagram at all. More women are using it, and if you’re target market is women 26 – early 50s, then you should definitely check out instagram, as that’s where your customers are spending some of their time.

You may not even know what instragram stories are?

A new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.

Introducing Instagram Stories, August 2016

instagram storiesInstagram stories appear at the top of your screen when you’re looking at your instragram feed.

They can be video or a series of still photos or images. They don’t add to your normal instagram feed, and they disappear 24 hours after you’ve posted it.

Viewers can send you direct messages from your story, but there’s no public comments, making engagement directly with you, so you qualify the person’s interest in you by their response to your story.

I had the pleasure of learning more about instagram stories from Claire Jones-Hughes of Clarita Digital in an #inconversationwith interview, which you can view in full here

She explained that instagram stories are like a news feed, and shares current ideas, events and thinking.


Tips for using Instagram Stories for your business

  • Less is more – as long as it’s quality. Once a month could be enough
  • Consistency is crucial. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Start with committing to one post a month, then increase from there
  • Ensure your profile is up to date, and branded for your business & the links work
  • Have 9 photos uploaded to complete the grid people see straight away – at least 6 for starters if 9 feels too much
  • Spend time engaging with others on instagram – relevant comments and conversation
  • Create 15 second videos (from instagram app) of your event, your product, customer feedback
  • Use hashtags in your stories to help people find you
  • Don’t share across to facebook that have lots of hashtags (facebook doesn’t like it)
  • Ask your customers what they want to know about you and your business, and use that for your instagram stories

Next steps for using Instagram Stories

instagram stories tips for businessWhat I learnt from Claire, was to give it a go. Try it. Have a play. See what works for you, and what you enjoy.

That’s great for me, and my style, that’s how I learn best.

I know that’s not for everyone. Claire is available to help you and has a free webinar coming up soon.

We’ll be carrying on the instagram story conversation in the Business Cheerleading Club group, to support each other to start, learn, develop and improve. There’s plenty of space for you to join us there too, for all sorts of business support, not just about instagram or social media. Claire has also agreed to do a workshop for club members on instagram in May, (open to guests at a charge of £29).

Let’s connect on instagram – We’re at tracey_jane_hughes – what’s your account?

Have you used instagram stories? What’s your story with them for you and your business?


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How commenting can increase your website ranking

It’s not just about being online, or “doing social media” that helps your online visibility. Whilst conversation and commenting may feel a bit old fashioned, they’re actually a fabulous way to increase your website ranking.

Now it’s not just me saying this, I learnt this from Alice Elliott, from The Commenting Club, in our conversation this week.

in conversation with Alice Elliott, the commenting clubAlice has been studying blogs, comments, online conversations, and the correlation with website rankings for the last 6 years. Commenting went out of fashion in about 2014 when spam increased and caused the larger blog sites to stop comments on their posts altogether. Commenting moved to twitter, a micro-blog site, and conversations grew more remotely.

Many people complain about how social media is used for “getting at” others, and in some ways you can see how it’s happened. The art of conversation and commenting has been lost when people only see a snippet of someone’s views.

Tips for commenting (& being commented on)

Alice gave us many tips for commenting on other people’s blogs, on LinkedIn, on You Tube. The summary is below.

  • Your comment needs to be relevant
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree with the writer. They’ve started a conversation and you’re joining in with your view. On your own website, don’t be afraid of sharing comments which disagree with you either. It shows you accept others views
  • Allow conversation to happen naturally in the comments section
  • By allowing conversation, you’re allowing a community of readers to develop who will share your work with others
  • A comment can be a mini-post of your own. Don’t write more than 500 words, and ensure it’s not longer than the original post
  • When you add your url to your comment, use a url to a relevant article on your own website. That keeps the conversation alive and shows other readers that you have experience in the topic being discussed

Alice suggested starting with trying to write 5 comments a week on other people’s work as a starting point.

How does commenting improve your website ranking?

commenting starts conversationEvery comment with a link back to your website adds a back link to your site. Every relevant conversation to your website (and the pages you link to), adds a tick in the search engines box that your site has good information about your topic.

When you reply to the comments on your own website, you’re adding more engagement on your site, and that’s creating more links and visibility to the search engines that your site is an expert in your topic.

Commenting develops your reach. People may see your name in different places, and start to look at what you do as they agree, or disagree, with you, and they want to know who they’re talking to.

Where do you find places to comment on?

Use keyword searches to see who’s talking about the subject you want to talk about. You may already be following some blogs relevant to your area of work. There’s lots of different ways to keep on top of other blogs, such as Feedly, and Digg.

You may just set aside some time to look at interesting things and make comments where you want. Your online commenting doesn’t have to be all business related. In fact, Alice suggested that simply being yourself and adding to conversations where you want, shows you at your best.

You may be in a networking group (online or offline) where you can read each others posts, comment and share them. That’s a great way of reading a wide variety of content, and sometimes practicing your commenting, if you’re not too confident to start with.

Commenting is about creating relationships, so whenever you comment, think about that. It’s not just about getting the backlink to your website. How can you engage with the author to develop your mutual understanding? Could you cultivate customers through commenting?

I found our conversation fascinating – the whole interview is here.

Online Visibilty Workshop Friday 27th April

Book your place to learn how to grow your online visibility by commenting HERE

If you want to learn more about commenting, take a look at The Commenting Club. There’s lots of articles to give you a flavour, and with Alice’s support you may well want to develop your commenting skills.

We also encourage sharing and commenting in the Business Cheerleading Club, where members share their website posts for other members to comment on and share – that networking I talked about earlier.

What’s your experience of commenting? Do you enjoy it? Are you a regular commenter?

What #tipsforbusiness have I missed off this list?

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Blogging for business – why bother?

You may think blogging is ‘old hat’. Or heard that blogging for business is “a waste of time”. Yet, there’s a lot of businesses who are growing their online visibility through blogging. What do you do? Why bother with blogging?

In our recent #inconversationwith business blogging expert Sarah Arrow, she walked us through how she’d taken her husband’s business website from no traffic, to 700 visitors a week, which led to a massive increase in sales. That’s how her blogging for business journey started. She, and Kevin, now help many business owners to write content on their websites to grow their business reputation and increase sales.

Why bother blogging for business?

in conversation with sarah arrow blogging for businessAs Sarah said so eloquently, “If you want to leave those customers for me to have, that’s fine. I’ll take them!” She went on to say, “when I asked my customers how they’d found us, they said, “I typed it in google” ” Simple as that!

Sarah told me how she wrote blogs, (or posts, or articles), whichever term you prefer that answered customer queries that she was getting on the phone. She wrote posts that helped her understand Kevin’s transport business. She wasn’t a writer, and didn’t want to write. However, she found that, when she wrote a post, (on BT Tradespace which is where she started blogging for business), that the phone would ring with a booking, or enquiry. Instead of writing 3 times a week, she decided to write daily, to keep the phone ringing every day.

The more you write, the more people are able to get to know you. They understand how your business works. They understand, know and like you as a business owner, and know they want to do business with you.

We discussed that many business owners are frightened of blogging, for all sorts of reasons. The main one I see and hear, is those businesses who aren’t wanting to be visible, or aren’t certain about what their business does, so aren’t able to talk about it. Others are scared that they’ll say “something wrong”.

What do your customers need to know?

If you’re ready to get started, and I highly recommend Sarah’s 30 day blogging challenge as a starting point, then start with talking to your customers about what they need to know:

  • About you
  • About your product or service
  • Why did you set the business up?
  • What can your product or service help them with? In marketing speak, what “pain” does your product or service “relieve”
  • What do you offer that they can’t get from another business which sells the same product?

And that’s just a starting point! Can you see? Whether you like the term blogging, or content marketing, all you’re doing as a business, is sharing your skills and knowledge with your customers and potential customers.

You’re helping your website be found by people searching for places to get a particular product, or fix a particular issue.

As Sarah said, when you’ve got water gushing everywhere, you simply need the first plumber that comes up in your google search who can come right now. If Joe Bloggs Plumbers who lives down the road doesn’t have a website, or is consciously promoting himself online, he’ll not be found when you search for ‘plumber’ in your area.

How to get started with blogging for business

I recommend Sarah’s 30 day blogging challenge. It’s focused on blogging for business & not only takes you through the writing aspect, giving you ideas of what to write about, but also how to set your website up to get maximum traffic.

The Business Cheerleading Club supports all aspects of business, and we’ve been exploring with some members the how to of blogging, and have even helped add a blog to a website to get them started. Each month we explore a business topic, but as a member you can ask questions, get support, and share your blog links to get extra traffic from club members.

In fact, the last two Action Spotlight Coaching sessions have focused on content creation and blogging for members. We talked through the types of content they could create, and how they could schedule their time to blog regularly, to “improve your writing muscle”, as Sarah said.

I like writing, and sharing my knowledge by blogging for my business. I know it’s increasing traffic to my website, as my stats tell me that too. I’m getting more potential customers find me and talk to me, and it’s growing my business.

Do you blog for your business? Or do you think you’d like to get started now you know a bit more? We’re here to help 🙂

Do you know the words that sell you and your business?

Many business owners are scared by the word ‘sales’, or selling. I’ve no idea why, as without sales you have no business.

I guess it’s because so many of us don’t like the cold calling which is still prevalent, or the pushy salesman who makes us uncomfortable.

However, when you find the right words that sell yourself and your business, your customer will tell you that they weren’t ‘sold’ to at all. In fact, your words told a story about how your product or service will help them with their dilemma, or the need they have in their life, or business right now.

How to find the words that sell your business

words that sellYou can research words that sell in the brilliant Words that Sell book, by Richard Bayan. There’s 6000 listed. That should be enough for you to start with! So, whilst you wait for the book to arrive, and even then, where do you start? You’re going to bore your potential customer if you try and get all 6000 into your conversation aren’t you?

So, what do you do? You’ve got a fabulous product or service, which you KNOW works. In fact, you’ve got testimonials from previous customers telling you how marvellous your product is. Yet. when you meet a potential customer, you go from one thing to another, without being clear about how this product will help them.

Be clear:

  1. Know who you’re talking to. Is the person in front of you (or on the phone), the end user of your product or service, or simply the buyer? The words and language you use will need to be slightly different for each audience
  2. Be clear about the benefits of your product or service, and how this helps the end user. Use language that your end user will use
  3. Know your business story and be comfortable to share it to your audience
  4. Ask your prospect amazing questions, so you can ensure you share all the benefits which meet their needs

What are the words that sell you?

You are your business after all.

Do you get all tongue tied when someone asks you “what do you do?” Do you mention your business, or do you skirt around the topic?

Being confident in yourself, what you do, and being able to tell your story, will be the most powerful sales tool you have. Sharing how your product or service has helped others, (or even yourself, if you started your business to meet your own need), will bring your business to life in the eyes of the person you’re talking to.

There’s no need to be embarrased about running a business. You’re doing this because you love it, and it’s meeting the needs of your customer. This person you’re talking to may not seem to be your target audience, but they may be best friends with someone who is.

Finding the right words that sell Workshop

We’re delighted that Steven Logan, an experienced salesman, ran an online workshop for Business Cheerleading Club members in February.

Steven has been running workshops to help business owners work out their 60 second pitch, after he saw many people at networking events unable to tell their story succinctly. He could see they weren’t selling themselves or their business, even though he knew them to be fabulous.


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Are you managing all areas of business efficiently?

When we first start out in business, we often dive straight in with the thing we’re most comfortable with, and also the thing we’re most passionate about. And we love it!

Then we realise that there’s more areas of business that we need to consider to ensure that everything is done, so that customers are served on time, suppliers are paid, and that we’re paid too! It maybe isn’t so simple running a business after all!

If we’re a one person business, then we’re responsible for ensuring all areas of business are completed to a high standard and nothing is missed. Even if we get others to help us, whether it’s family and friends, or we pay a specialist, we still need to manage all aspects of business for it to function efficiently.

What areas of business do you focus on?

Do you have particular areas of business you focus on? Is that because you enjoy them more? Do you shy away from the finances as you don’t like numbers? Or do you simply love putting new photographs on your website, or communicating with customers on social media?

There will be certain areas of business we prefer. However, as business owners we need to ensure that all are covered and carried out, so our business can grow.

Areas of business to manage:

areas of business

  • Finances
    • money in
    • money out
    • annual accounts & tax returns
  • Resources
    • staff, contractors
    • systems
    • asset management
    • property management
  • Products &/or services
    • buying or making
    • storing
  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Marketing
    • Offline
    • Online
  • Public relations
  • Administration
    • systems
    • procedures
    • reporting
  • Technology
  • Strategy & structure
  • Planning & review

You may well have some other areas of business, or terms you use. Do they come into these general headings? Or do we need to add some more?

OK, so now we’ve identified areas of business you need to manage, are you managing them efficiently?

Again, efficiency for one business will look very different to another. So, firstly, do you have time scheduled in your diary for each of these areas of business? That’s the first thing to consider.

You may only do your business finances once a month, whilst you work on marketing every day. That’s fine. As long as you’re working on all areas of business, then you’ll be making progress in your business.

So, which areas of business do you need to pay a little more attention to?

The Business Cheerleading Club focuses support on your WHOLE business, and the business training, experts and business coaching will support the area YOU need help with. Join now, and don’t worry about what you haven’t been doing. Let’s focus on what you have been doing, and put a plan in place for those other little bits.

Once you’re aware of all the areas of business, you can plan to work on them, in the right way for you.


How to keep marketing simple

Marketing is one of the areas of business which people seem to spend the most time on. It’s also the area of business people seem to have the most frustrations about. It’s the topic which comes up time and again in coaching calls with business owners, and the area they feel most ‘stuck’.

Why do we get stuck on marketing, when it should be the simplest thing to do?

Marketing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

Oxford Dictionary

So, it’s simple right? It’s the ACTION of promoting and selling. OK, market research and advertising are in there too, but that’s part of taking action and understanding the audience you’re promoting to.

So, if marketing is simple, why do business owners get so confused and hung up on marketing?

keep marketing simpleI believe it’s because the places available to us to promote and sell our products and services have increased 100 fold, (maybe more?), over the past 20 years. Our lives seem more complicated with communication technology, not less complicated as we may expect. Our attention span has reduced. Any promoting and selling has to happen in a smaller time frame than our ancestors had.

Many of our clients seem to tie themselves in knots about whether to use twitter or instagram; or how many emails should they send to their customers each month; or they spend hours making a web page look stunning, but then forget to add a link to that page on any of their social media posts.

Is marketing an art?

Well, that may well be the topic of a discussion we can have one day. However, for now, I’d like to suggest that marketing is an industry. Even our children understand on some basic level that they are “being marketed to”, and being shown what life will be like when I purchase this sparkly new product.

Some advertisements may be considered art, whether they are video format, or flat images. There are advertising and marketing awards each year. (I think I’m straying into advertising here, but it’s in our dictionary definition, so please forgive me for putting both terms in the mixing pot).

I guess what I’m trying to say, is, does it matter if marketing is an art or not? If you have a product or service you need to sell to generate some income in your business. Then you need to market/promote it to your ideal client, otherwise, you’ll have no business.

Keep marketing simple

When we work with clients, we always like to keep things simple, and marketing is no exception. If it’s not simple in your business, it’s unlikely to happen, or happen well. Agree?

So to keep marketing simple what do you need to do?

  • Understand who your target audience is, and where they ‘hang out’. By this, we mean, do they read the local newspaper; are they on facebook all day; do they listen to national radio; do they have young children and sit at the swimming pool for hours on end each week. Get the picture? You can do some really detailed research on this if you want, but simply having a really good feel to where your ideal customer is, means you can speak to them there
  • How much time do you have each week to market your business? Knowing how much time you have for this part of your business, helps you then to really get to know what’s achievable in the time you have. Do you have other people who can help you, or who’s job it is to help you with marketing? If you don’t have time yourself, can you pay someone else to help you? If so, how much?
  • What’s worked in the past? Do it again. Don’t ever think that because you’ve done something that worked once, that your customers will be bored with it next time you do something similar. A lot of businesses can only grow if they get new customers, so you’ll be constantly marketing to new customers. Keep marketing simple by repeating what works for your ideal customer.
  • What do you enjoy doing, (that gets results)? If you enjoy doing something, your tone, and manner when you’re marketing is likely to be more natural than when you do something that’s uncomfortable for you. If you enjoy chatting with people in Facebook groups, and you get customers from those places, do more of it. Spend your time doing things you enjoy. If you enjoy blogging, and that’s getting more traffic to your website, which in turn is increasing sales, then do more of that.
  • What’s right for your business? This may be related to where your customer hangs out, but not always. What’s right for your friend in the networking group, may not be right for you, or your business. It’s not always about breaking through our comfort zone in life and business to get growth. A lot of time, it’s about understanding what’s right, and will work for us.

You’ll notice we haven’t talked about Facebook ads, needing to post 6 times a day on twitter, or spending time making connections on LinkedIn. They may be part of your marketing mix (remember? Product, Price, Promotion and Place, with Promotion being where you promote your product), but it won’t work for all businesses or business owners.

What should I do to keep marketing simple in my business?

We recommend you take the following steps:

  1. Create marketing time in your weekly & monthly diary that isn’t allowed to be used for anything else
  2. Divide up that time to ensure you’re marketing in the right places to your existing customers & your potential customers (may be different places & definitely different words)
  3. Review what’s working and do more of it next month. Reflect on what’s not working, and either ditch it, or adapt it
  4. Don’t spread yourself too thinly. Do whatever you’re doing well & have time to chat to your potential customer, in the place that’s right for you, and/or them
Tracey-Jane Hughes owner of Manage Those Things

Tracey-Jane Hughes

If you need help with working out how to keep marketing simple for you and your business, book a coaching call with Tracey-Jane. Or, join the Business Cheerleading Club

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SarkeMedia courses

We love what we do, supporting clients. You may be surprised that we work with specialists too. We’re always learning new tips, and keeping up to date of new software and algorithm changes. We may sometimes suggest you learn from a specialist, and/or we’ll walk alongside you and a specialist with a particular project. We’ll always give you options, as we all learn in different ways, and what suits your business partner, may not suit your style.

thank you sarkemediaOne of our favourite companies we often refer clients to, offer training, coaching and 1 to 1 support, are Sarah and Kevin Arrow from SarkeMedia who run the Online Visibility academy. We’ve worked with Sarah and Kevin for years, so we can highly recommend their work.

Some of our own courses dovetail into their work, like our Get your website working course will lead you onto some of their courses for more detailed work, learning about a specific area of work, or to really drill into an area you need to really master in your business.

Whilst we recommend Sarkemedia and the Arrows to you, for their breadth of knowledge and success with online visibility for themselves and their clients, here’s some highlights some of clients have enjoyed with them directly:

Leads and LinkedIn – This package to teach you how to use LinkedIn to generate more leads is taught through daily emails with a task to learn or do each day. The Leads and LinkedIn programme is supported by the Arrows through a LinkedIn group (where else!). If LinkedIn is where your potential clients hang out, then you need to be there to hang out with them too.

Business Blogging Challenge – This is a 30 day challenge, delivered by email every day, which takes you through everything you need to know about Business blogging. From why you should have a business blog, to how to set it up, to keywords, (what they are and how to find yours), images, linking, guest blogging, and all things in between. This challenge is supported by a Facebook group which has over 4,000 people either doing the challenge or who’ve completed it.

Marketing Success Strategy Bundle – An amazing bundle of marketing strategies for whichever way you want to promote your business. Done for you marketing strategies which take the effort out of the planning and scratching your head stage, so you simply use your time to get on and do the marketing for your business. We love this one 🙂

Optimise Anything – Just like it says, this course will teach you how to optimise anything. Not only is it important to optimise your website to be found for your keywords, but you’ll also learn how to optimise your Facebook page, your Instagram account, your twitter feed, and many more things you may not have thought can be optimised. Ensuring everything is optimised helps your online visibility, and ensures people find you and trust you for what you do.

This programme is delivered in an online course format, with tutorials, checklists and support. You go as fast or as slow as you want.

Create a business website from scratch – Using WordPress. Step by step tutorials to show you how to set up a wordpress website from scratch. Yes, it’s that simple!

Client Clairvoyance – Find out what your clients are looking for, and develope your business to suit their requirements. Then use that knowledge to market to them in the way that suits them best. If you’re currently unsure what your clients are really after, this will lead you through a step by step process.

Delivered on their course platform for you to go as fast or slow as you like.

Autumn Bundle of Awesomeness – An amazing package of a variety of courses with Sarkemedia old branding which they’re virtually giving away at this price! Even if you don’t need something right now, grab it as you have lifetime access to all their courses.


Manage Those Things can help you manage all aspects of your business. Sometimes, however, we’ll advise you to work, or learn from, specialists, like Sarah and Kevin from Sarkemedia. If you’re wanting to improve your Online Visibility, talk to us about your goals and where you are now, and we’ll advise the best way forward for you.

Have you done any of Sarkemedia’s courses? Are they right for you?