Welcome to the Hertford blog. It’s part 2 of our starting a business in 2013 blog!!
In part 1 we went over the very basic fundamentals everyone needs to start up their own business, now it’s time for the fun stuff!!
Every business needs marketing, it’s the backbone of any business. But marketing isn’t just going out and getting more customers. Marketing is everything about your business, the way you answer the phone, the way you dress, how well your website works, your reputation. Basically, good marketing is how well your customers and potential customers view your business through their eyes.
First things first are the basics...websites! In 2013 having a website is fundamental to any business. They’re inexpensive and a great ‘shop window’ for your business. Your site can be just a basic page with your details and services, or a complete e-commerce platform that sells your wares. It’s important to put lots of thought into what exactly you want your website to do. Don’t waste money on extravagant things for it, a good website needs to be found easily and then give the potential customer the information they need in the simplest way possible to make a purchase or pick up the phone. There’s lots of great web designers out there, but we can personally recommend Webuseful. They produce great looking websites and offer great search engine optimisation too. This means your website will be easily found on Google etc, which is important since 90% of the UK use Google to search for things! The great thing about this service from Webuseful is you only pay when your website is on the first page of Google!
Keeping things online, the internet is one of the main ways that you can get customers to know you exist and use your services! It can be free (it can also be very expensive!) as well as time consuming, but the main thing to remember is that it can be really powerful! Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Linkedin are all free to use social media platforms that you need to be involved with. Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers, do market research and build customer service. The important thing to remember is, be yourself! It’s called social media! Be funny, friendly and don’t spurt your sales message all the time, make sure you engage in conversation rather than tell people about yourself. This is a sure fire way of winning customers through these free to use platforms, but don’t expect instant results. It takes time to do build trust from your followers, so don’t give up if your phone doesn’t start ringing straight away! Smartphones are a great way of communicating when out and about, but when in the office have a play around with Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. These are social media management tools which allow you to schedule tweets and Facebook updates whenever you like, from these tools you can also segment your followers into lists so you can see what your clients, friends and prospects are talking about without having to trawl through endless tweets from Texan car salesmen and life coaches!
Despite living in an online world, face to face is still one of the best ways to do business. So paying a visit to a business networking meeting is a good idea. Business networking usually consists of an organised meeting which local business owners get together to pass business to one another. Business networking is built on relationships, over time lasting friendships and relationships are developed, and from these lots of business is passed. Business networking isn’t stuffy and full of power hungry businessmen wearing cufflinks! Networking is friendly and informal, mostly these meetings take place over the course of a breakfast or lunch and there’s plenty to choose from in Hertford and the surrounding area! Personally we can recommend 2 local groups, one called Ware To Do Business which happens fortnightly at The Roebuck Hotel in Ware, and another which is for ladies only called Athena Business Networking which is monthly at Hanbury Manor. Ware To Do Business is an independent offering which is run by the businesses themselves and Athena is a national group run locally by the lovely Anita Gray. Both are brilliant groups attended by lots of friendly business owners all intent on passing business to one another.
It’s easy to forget the basics when you begin to get established. One thing is for certain, if you start to market your business well then your phone will begin to start ringing! That’s a good thing right? Of course it is, but it’s hard to always be near the phone, and it’s unprofessional to not have a landline for your customers to call. So it’s a great idea to use a call answering service. These services answer your phone for you, using your business name and greeting that you can personalise. We can recommend JAM, they provide a pay as you go service which gets each call you receive answered for just £1. You then receive an email and text with the message and number for you to call back at your leisure. A call answering service is a great way for you to never miss a call and potentially a sale.
There are lots of things you can do as a business owner to get more customers. Making sure you’re visible online is important, making yourself visible in the business community is important. But more importantly is making sure you know who your customers are, and more importantly where they are and how to get them! Don’t ignore the free ways to market yourself (press releases, free to attend networking meetings etc). Learn from your mistakes (you’ll definitely make them!). Build as many business connections as possible, and make sure you have a business plan in place! It’s very easy to let an idea become a business without planning for the future. Having a business plan that you revisit every few months will keep your mind on track and your business profitable.
Thanks for reading, remember this 2 part blog is really just an outline of the very basics, but it’s good advice and well worth following. Your business will have its ups and downs, and sometimes it’ll feel like you have nowhere to turn, but the rewards of building something from the ground up are undeniable, and always outweigh the bad times!
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi there, my name's Victoria and as owner of thebestof Hertford and Ware it's my job to find and promote the best information, events and businesses that Hertford and Ware have to offer!