Much like the eye-catching front cover of a magazine, your website is an introduction to what’s inside your business – a window to your world.

If done correctly, it can convey your expertise and professionalism, foster customer confidence and trust, and brand you as a credible employer attracting people who want to work for you. Given this, what kind of content should you have on your website to optimise your communication?

1. Use well thought out content that communicates your culture

Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

These questions can be answered throughout your home page, about us section, services page, etc. One point to remember is copy for the web should be different for that meant for print. Most people skim read websites rather than loiter; your main aim is to give people what they want to see in the blink of an eye and the search engines great content so you will be found online.

The essence of website content is originality. Search engines and your audiences want original and genuine content. Communicate the company ethos and personality, forget the industry jargon, and keep the updates regular.

2. Create a news page

One page that’s often overlooked but is incredibly important in promoting your business is the news page. Some companies use a blog for this. The news page is where you can communicate what it is you do, in real time.

Developing a news page can have a positive impact on your business for a number of reasons

  • Keeps your staff, customers, stakeholders and the wider community engaged with your business.
  • Builds your image and reputation.
  • Illustrates how proactive you are within your business.
  • Original content will be proactively promoted throughout search engines thus increasing traffic to your website.

Get your blog or news page going today with these easy to follow tips:

  1. Consider a brief headline. In any search result only the first 50-60 characters of the title will appear. Never repeat your headline in consecutive posts! Search engines will assume it’s a duplicate of the last piece and place it way down the search results list.
  2. Write for your audience. Use a conversational tone to engage the people you want to engage.
  1. Keep your sentences short with no jargon. Lists can be good to allow you get to the point, but again, only use them where relevant.
  1. Don’t fill the content with the same key word. Constantly repeating the name of your business within every article will place you at a disadvantage. Search engines will move you further down the search list.
  1. Use photos, and if you have them, videos. News that can illustrate the story is far more engaging for the reader.
  1. Add a quote from a spokesperson. This could be your MD, line manager, or customer. Not only do quotes add weight and perspective to a story, but they make it real.

Remember the magazine cover. If you want people to have a good feeling about you, make sure you look the part and also talk the part. You are an expert in your field, so regular content updates make it much easier for people to understand you, find you, and ultimately enquire about your services!


I read the funniest e-shot I have ever read last week, I declared it a great piece of PR.

Why?

Because it’s a great story, it connects with people, it has personality, it’s human, it isn’t selling something, and it’s memorable.

Here it is in its entirety:

David Parkin, Director of events and travel business COPA, on getting run over…by a golf buggy

Getting run over by a golf buggy wasn’t my finest sporting hour.

It isn’t a story I’m eager to tell either.

But memories of that infamous occasion came flooding back this week with the news of the death of great Fleet Street sports writer and editor Peter Corrigan from cancer at the age of 80.

You see it was Peter who was at the wheel of the golf buggy that landed on top of me. Given that such vehicles travel at a top speed of 5mph you must be wondering how I found myself under its wheels.

I still am too.

Cardiff-born Peter’s career saw him go from tea boy at the South Wales Echo to sports editor of The Observe presiding over a team of stellar talents including the nonpareil Hugh Mclivanney.

In between those two roles he worked at almost every newspaper in Fleet Street and helped write the autobiographies of England’s 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters and rugby great Jonathan Davies.

One of his biggest scoops came in 1962 when he was on holiday in Italy with his wife and bumped into Wales, Leeds United and Juventus legend John Charles on a beach.

When Peter enquired: “How you doing Charlo?” the footballing giant replied: “I’ll give you an exclusive, I’m going back to Leeds.”

He was later appointed chief sports columnist for the Independent on Sunday and wrote The Hacker column about his golfing exploits.

That was what he was doing when I met him a few years ago when I was business editor of the Yorkshire Post and offered a tempting “freebie” trip to play several top golf courses on the Algarve in Portugal.

I joined a handful of journalists as guests of a luxury golf tours firm.

We stayed in separate apartments at the top end Pine Cliffs golf resort and on the first morning were booked to play the well known Quinta do Lago course.

The course was pretty busy so we started on the 10th hole and had all got into our stride by the time we were getting to the halfway stage on the first tee.

I smacked my tee shot into some bushes at the top of a bank on the side of the fairway and set off to find the ball.

Peter Corrigan, who I was sharing a buggy with, followed me up the bank as I whacked my ball out of the bushes and back onto the fairway.

But it didn’t travel very far and I walked down the slope to hit the ball again.

What I didn’t realise was that Peter had driven the buggy down the bank behind me and instead of putting his foot on the brake, pressed down on the accelerator.

I heard a shout of: “Get out of the way!” turned my head but before I had a chance to leap clear the buggy had hit me and I was aware of rolling underneath its wheels as it continued down the hill for several metres before coming to a stop.

During those brief seconds under the buggy I remember all I could think was: “I’m going to die.”

When the buggy finally came to a stop I was spread-eagled lying on my chest underneath it.

The first thing I thought was: “I’m alive!”

All I could hear Peter Corrigan shouting to passing golfers was: “He’s dead. He’s f***ing dead!”

The two other people playing with us ran across the course and it took them and Peter’s efforts to lift the buggy up so I could crawl out.

One of them later told me that all he could see when he ran over to help was a golf buggy with a white golf shoe sticking out from underneath it.

He said it reminded him of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East and all you can see is her scarlet slipper poking out from under the wooden house.

Having emerged from under the buggy, the adrenalin of knowing I was still alive enabled me to stand up for a few seconds before collapsing on the fairway.

The leather belt on my golf trousers had nearly been sliced in half, my thick polo shirt was torn open at the back and there were holes in the knees of my trousers.

I still have the shirt at home. I should frame it like other sportsmen frame their international shirts.

A member of staff arrived in a buggy to take me to the golf resort’s medical centre.

I later commented that not one person sitting on the terrace of the clubhouse who had witnessed the accident had come over to help

“No, but they did give you a standing ovation when you were driven past them in the buggy on the way to the medical centre,” pointed out Peter helpfully.

At the medical centre I was checked over by a German medic called Dr Kaiser (with a story this ridiculous you don’t need to make a name up like that).

He told me I was exceedingly lucky as there didn’t look to be any internal injuries or broken bones but he said I had a couple of black eyes and cuts and bruises to my back.

“But my chest is really burning,” I complained.

“It will be, you’ve got a tyre mark right across it,” explained Dr Kaiser.

At that point Peter Corrigan burst into the examination room.

I said it was kind of him to come back to check if I was OK.

“I had to, that accident really affected my concentration and ruined my round,” he replied.

All the best Peter, thanks for the (painful) memories.

 

So what is it that we can learn from this and why is it such a good piece of PR?

The topic may be golf but you don’t have to be a club member, or have in-depth knowledge of the game to appreciate that this story is gripping, informative, funny, and packed full of human interest.

Be honest with yourself, how many e-shots do you receive in a week? How many do you remember?

Most e-shots I receive go straight to spam whereby I delete on mass, but this one I read.

I read it because the title pricked my curiosity, ‘…getting run over by a golf buggy’, you don’t hear that every day!

After the first paragraph you are absolutely hooked by the authors submission to share what must have been an embarrassing, not to mention worrying, experience.

Once gripped you taken through paragraphs of humorous detailing that serve to enhance the story before ending on serious note, the authors nod to a deceased colleague.

So before you approach your keyboard, just think, how can my story connect, engage, entertain, and be memorable.

Sounds hard? Start with giving a bit more of yourself like this author did, after all PR is about positive relationships so start creating them.


When I received feedback from a client that read, “Thank you for your advice, we put it into action and it went down a storm! We never thought we would accomplish what we did, thank you”, I considered that a priceless comment!

This company achieved a full-page news article in their local newspaper, based on our advice and input concerning media relations. Never before had they attempted this, believing they weren’t good enough, interesting enough or newsworthy.

They achieved what they deemed to be the unachievable, and also received a huge dose of recognition and credibility – I love PR for having the power to do that.

How did they achieve this? They developed a story that was authentic and relevant to their audience.

Here I share with you 3 PR tips to help you capture media attention, whether its for yourself or your business.

1. Be interesting

How do you make your story interesting but, keep it authentic and rich with content that is relevant to your audience. Be honest with yourself, is the story you are contemplating interesting? Maybe you have a hero in your business, a product that makes your customers’ lives easier, or a quirky service.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage. One of my clients didn’t think they had much to announce this month so we got talking about business and developments and it turned out they had achieved new business on a national scale. From a provincial business they had developed into a UK wide business. We were able to develop a piece of communication around this to ensure the audiences they wanted to engage with knew about their capability and credibility nationally.

2. Be unique

Maybe you have a new service or product, or have achieved something unique in your industry. Maybe you are the only company in your industry to reach a particular milestone. Perhaps your recent new starter is unique – perhaps the only male in a female environment? Maybe your product is the first of its kind off the production line.

It isn’t good enough to create corporate fluff dressed up as a good story; think about how you would want to read about you. Only last week we identified a story that demonstrated my clients business performance and innovation in their market with their investment in electric vehicles. This is a worthy piece of communication for my client as they are the first company in their sector to make this investment.

3. Be newsworthy

Putting aside scandal and conflict, which the media love to focus on, ask yourself: Is my story really news? Is it bang on trend, an opinion piece, or hard-hitting? Is it filled with human interest and local interest?

Ensure it is timely – and by that I mean current. Your stories need to be fresh, and relevant to the media channel you are engaging.  We easily achieved success for a high school that had organised a school trip to England’s chocolate capital to learn about its history and heritage. No, it isn’t hard-hitting news, but it’s full of human interest, relevant to the geography of the school, and let’s face it – who doesn’t like chocolate?

If you can identify a few of these PR nuggets you’ll be achieving top quality PR results that will connect you to your audience, create more understanding about what you do, and develop your reputation. What’s not to love about PR!


Is Your Small Business Making These Marketing Mistakes?

Most small businesses don’t have extra resources to throw around in a bid to get more customers. However, many decisions that are made don’t result in the best use of the limited resources they do have.

Check out the following 7 marketing mistakes that your business might be making, and see if you can make improvements in the way you’re marketing your business.

1. Mixed Messages = Confused Customers

A lack of cohesive branding sends confusing messages to your customers which dilutes what you’re saying, and leaves them unclear about what solutions you can help them with. This is often due to a haphazard approach to marketing and lack of an overall strategic plan.

Solution: Take some time to plan out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.

2. Stopping, starting & not getting any traction

This type of uncertainty comes about because there is little understanding of what marketing options are available, what will work best for your business and how to implement them so they work together to get you more business.

Solution: Consider getting help to put together your plan and to manage the implementation if that is a weak spot for your business.

3. No way of accurately measuring your Return on Investment

Without information on your key marketing metrics, you could be wasting money on activities that aren’t bringing in new customers or encouraging repeat business from your existing customers. Gut feel is important but not always accurate.

Solution: Put in place achievable goals and tracking so you can easily see what needs to be improved.

4. Unclear product benefits

A visitor to your website, a customer stepping into your business or someone looking at your brochure, should be able to tell within a few seconds what your business can offer them and the key way that you can solve their problem. Many small businesses feel that the benefits of their product are obvious and don’t need explaining.

Solution: Be clear about how your product or service can help your target market.

5. Following others & getting distracted

What works for one business in one market doesn’t necessarily work for other businesses. Just because everyone is doing social media training or jumping on to Instagram doesn’t mean you automatically need to do that too.

Solution: Training & mentoring to help you and your staff implement your plan and be a sounding board for any deviations.

6. No information that explains your expertise

Right after a potential customer has worked out what your product can do and whether it can help them solve their problem, they want to know how you can support that claim. What credibility can you offer?

Solution: Demonstrate your expertise through examples, case studies, testimonials and weave it into your product or service descriptions.

7. Making it hard for customers

There are a number of things that need to come together to make it easy for customers to order from you. Relying on your customers to be committed and seek out the information they need is not a good strategy for success.

Solution: Review where you’re getting it right and what areas can be improved.

Taking a more strategic and considered approach to marketing may seem tedious if you just want to get on and sell more as soon as possible but a little bit of planning upfront will provide benefits that you can build on for many years to come.

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

JIll-Brennan-Leaders-in-Heels-imgJill Brennan

Jill Brennan is a marketing consultant, mentor and the founder of Harbren Marketing. With around 20 years in the small business trenches, she takes the headache out of marketing by working with small business owners to build their own marketing engine. Get a more detailed guide to the 7 Small Business Marketing Mistakes at harbren.com.


Maybe you’ve put a lot of energy into getting your branding right, the brochure is nothing less than a masterpiece, you feel proud to share it, maybe your website is the same, a visual masterpiece, this in itself is good PR but it isn’t where communication stops.

Today, consumers expect you to be present on social media channels. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat all actively encourage brands to set up profiles. But is it enough just to be visible? If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind.

Here are my top 10 tips for brands to make their PR socially engaging:

  1. Make sure your content is targeted and relevant to your audience. Social media users share a wealth of information about themselves – use it wisely.
  1. It’s not a sales pitch. They have invited you into their phones and their homes – sales driven updates will only annoy your audience.
  1. Post regularly – but don’t make trivial updates for the sake of updates. They don’t care what you’ve had for lunch – unless you’re a food critic!
  1. Everyone loves a freebie. Consider offering a promotional code or small gifts to encourage initial sign-ups.
  1. Your customers will create content around your brand if they love the product or service experience. Encourage them, real recommendations are worth far more than any paid advertising.

If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind

  1. Monitor what is being said. Social media happens in real-time and you’ll be ready to grasp unique opportunities and prevent any negativity before it spreads.
  1. Social media is replacing customer service phone numbers. Why would a customer call to tell you something is wrong when they can do it quickly and publicly shame you across social media? Turn it to your advantage with a speedy, transparent and human response that highlights your excellent customer service skills.
  1. Support your content with images and videos – they are more likely to be viewed and shared than plain text.
  1. Dare to be different. Don’t bore customers by posting the same content week after week. Try something new now and again.
  1. Lastly always keep a record of your campaigns and social click-throughs to your website. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? How can you adapt future campaigns to ensure success?

I’m working with a company who planned PR into their strategy for growth, they knew exactly how it would work within their company, and what they wanted it to achieve. From their website, to social media and print media they engaged PR to develop a consistent message across all platforms. As a result of this activity they won a hundred thousand pound contract!

Plan your communication and join it up to embrace all the channels available to you. This is public relations use it and share it and watch your public image grow.


Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – is always a hot topic because it is so important – it allows your business to be found online with ease. It’s also been a hot topic because in the past, it’s been shrouded in mystery. It’s an area of business people need to be made aware of – if you get it wrong and Google penalises you, the consequences are dire.

In the past, SEO was a challenging game to play; a big industry grew around it which continued to perpetuate the view that if you were going to make it to page one on the search engine results page, you needed an expert who knew how to manage the search engine in the way that no ordinary digital marketer could. This is not the case anymore. Google wants transparency and actively discourages any smoke and mirrors search engine optimisation tactics.

So what is Search Engine Optimisation today?

Here’s a definition – Search Engine Optimisation is a set of techniques applied to your website so that the search engine (usually Google in Australia) recognises your site as relevant to a search query entered by the user. The search results that come from a user entering a search query is called a search engine results page or SERP.

The aim of SEO is to have the links to your pages appear naturally or organically on page one of the SERP.  Consumer behaviour has changed, and these days we don’t usually go beyond page one of the search engine’s results pages to find what we’re looking for. If we don’t find what we want on the first page, we simply refine our search query or keywords. The position of the links on the search engine results page is a result of SEO techniques.

Why is Search Engine Optimisation the business of everyone in the business?

SEO and content are today’s dancing partners – the ice cream and jelly of digital marketing. The SEO process starts with keywords, and it’s no longer just the job of the digital marketing team to think about these keywords. Defining keywords helps a business understand what it represents for its customers – what value or solution the business provides to its customers and what business it is really in.

What do I mean by this? Here’s an example. I recently ran through a keyword exercise with a doctor for her general practice. We started with the big headings; womens health; mens health, etc. Then I asked – what do you do in these areas? The answer I got was thorough and technical – a lot of terms that I could not understand. The next question – if your customers were looking for that service, what would they type into a search engine? That’s when we get to the real value, finding the words that your customers would use to find your product or service. Only then can we build out a strategy for SEO and establish a framework that informs website navigation and where the content will go. Would the doctor have thought she would be part of determining the SEO structure for the buinsess? No, she didn’t. Will the GP be doing the SEO? No, she wont be. But as you can see from the example, she is an essential part of its success.

Any content creator in the business also needs to know the keywords for the business and the SEO strategy. In the case of the doctor’s business, that is going to include the receptionists, the practice nurse and the other doctors in the practice, all of whom write some form of content that will most likely be published on the website (as well as used in other formats).

Link Building is a lot like Public Relations

SEO includes ‘on-page’ techniques, using your keywords in the URL, page title, headings, content and images; as well as ‘off-page’ techniques, which is essentially having other sites link to your site. Anchor text are the words or phrases on the site that links to yours containing the hyperlink to your site. These should be your keywords. You can understand that “click here” or “learn more” won’t do a lot for you. Links and anchor text should always make sense to the visitor. This is a way you can assess quality. If a link or anchor text looks weird or out of place, like it doesn’t belong, then it doesn’t.

If your customers were looking for that service, what would they type into a search engine? That’s when we get to the real value, finding the words that your customers would use to find your product or service

Good linking is helped by having active social media profiles and publishing a quality blog that others link to. But it’s also simply a matter of ensuring that businesses and organisations that you do business with have links to your site on theirs. Look to your partners, organisations that you sponsor, your community affiliations. Does that university business school that your CEO just made a speech to have a link along with the info and pic about the event? Does that sports team you support have a number of links to your site? What about the sponsorship you make to the local training awards program, is there a link from their site to yours? You check and if not, you make the phone call or send the email and ask that the link be made and then you check again. If every organisation you partner with in a variety of ways over time included links from their site to yours, your off-page SEO would be doing well.

What can you do about making SEO the business of everyone in the business?

It’s likely that most people in the business, outside of marketing, have little idea of what SEO is, and even if they do, they won’t think that they have anything to do with it.

Here are my top five tips for increasing the focus of everyone in the business on SEO.

  1. It starts with education. How this happens in businesses varies greatly but even the very simple “paper bag lunch” training session will go a long way.
  2. During your training, avoid technicalities and keep it simple. Playing a keyword game is a great place to start. Choose a topic and have everyone come up with three different words or phrases that they would type into a search engine if they were looking for that thing. Run some live tests and show the results.
  3. Demonstrate how other businesses in your sector are using keywords by visiting a few sites. Show page titles and URLs, as well as content, headings and subheadings and images for sites that have good SEO structure and ones that don’t.
  4. Inform everyone what the target keywords are and benchmark your performance for those. After some dedicated keyword -focused SEO work, celebrate your success as you move up the rankings in Google.
  5. Set a quality ‘link’ challenge. How many links can your team generate over a month or two?

What are your tips to encourage your organisation to focus on SEO?

 

 

Beth-Powell-Leaders-in-Heels

Beth Powell

Beth Powell is the founder of Digital Marketing Club, a coaching and support program for marketers and non-marketers that provides direct answers to your questions about your own digital marketing and gets your roadblocks unstuck.  She has become known as the go-to person for clear explanations about how digital marketing works and how businesses can use the various solutions to improve their marketing and grow their business. Beth is a sought after conference speaker and author of the soon to be published book “Drive More Business: A 5 step Guide to Digital Marketing for Auto Dealers”. For more information, email [email protected].