How to run a Facebook contest properly graphicMy last post about Facebook Like and Share competitions seems to have been quite popular, ended up being my highest traffic blog post to date.  So if you read it, thanks, and if you read it and then shared it somewhere (as quite a few did), then thanks even more 🙂

Contests are still a good way to grow your community, build brand awareness, and encourage interaction with your followers. They can also be a great way to provide some customer information and also drive sales.

But if you shouldn’t do “Like and Share” contests, then how should you do them?

Well, read on . . .

Facebook have a few rules for running contests / promotions, to which you must adhere if you want to keep your page (which I assume you do!) – I linked to them in the last post, but here they are again: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions

So here’s how to stay on the right side of the rules:

1. Your competition must be run using a 3rd party app. This makes it easy for Facebook to monitor, as it is then up to these app developers to stay in line with the rules (which may change from time to time).  There are a number of 3rd party apps available, some of which are free, and some incur a one-off or monthly fee (it won’t usually break the bank). Examples of these apps are:


2. You can’t make entry into the competition happen via any Facebook functionality (i.e. liking, commenting, sharing, checking in, or posting on your wall). What you can do, however, is ask entrants to like your page as part of the entry process (subtle difference), but they then must go through the 3rd party app and enter their details.


 3. Your full terms and conditions must be easily viewable in the App. These T & C’s must also disassociate your contest from Terms and Conditions ButtonFacebook (i.e. “‘this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.’).

There are other statements which must also be included, which you’ll find in section E here: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions.


Congratulations Facebook Contest Winner Graphic

4. You can’t notify winners via Facebook, either by private message, or posts on walls or timelines. If you’ve done it properly, remember you should have another way of contacting your entrants anyway (i.e. email / mobile / postal address), which let’s face it, is going to be more beneficial to you long-term than a simple Facebook “Like”

Facebook Contest Tips Graphic

5. Before you start, decide why you’re doing it – is it for more likes, more engagement, build an email list, generate leads, build a list of numbers for mobile marketing, etc? Be as specific as you can.

6. Make the prize relevant, preferably one of your own products or services, or one that’s at least related. Will a prize of a free iPad really attract real potential leads, or will it just attract a lot of people who want to win an iPad but have no interest in your business?

7. Make it as easy as possible for people to enter. If your goal is to build an email list, then focus on that, and don’t ask for very much more than you really need to. I normally try to keep the requested info to a minumum so entrants are not put off (start at first name and email address, and work from there).

However if you do need certain info to make the leads worthwhile, then don’t be afraid to ask. I once ran a lead-generation competition for a client who, to make the leads worthwhile, needed entrants to provide name, address, mobile number, email address, how many people in their household, ages of children, and the total household income! It was run properly via a web landing page / data capture form, and it worked well for them, generating 1,200 leads for them in a few days. Not a bad result!

8. Start with your existing marketing lists / customers, and encourage them to enter /share (across all channels – email / social media / telephone / mail). Could you mention it in your email signatures, and at the bottom of your invoices / receipts?

9. Consider Facebook ads to maximise the impact. You can get very focused and targeted on your ideal potential customer with these for a very reasonable cost compared to other marketing methods

10. Let your competition run long enough to make an impact, and let the word-of-mouth marketing happen properly. I’d recommend at least a month

Hope that helps.

Have you any success stories about Facebook competitions? Anything I haven’t mentioned above that worked well for you?

Let me know in the comments below


Facebook Like and Share Competitions Account Suspended GraphicThe Americans have a phrase which I like to think applies to “Like and Share” competitions on Facebook – they’re “like shooting fish in a barrel”, meaning you’re doing something which is effortless / simple / easy. However, as with the similar phrase “like taking candy from a baby”, it feels like there’s something wrong with the act itself.

Now, aside from the fact that guns are, in the main, illegal in the UK & Ireland, there is a downside – you end up with a lot of lead-filled dead fish, and a leaking barrel!

And so to “Like and Share” competitions – I’m sure you’ve seen them, as they seem to be everywhere. The good old “Like and Share this page with your friends to be in with a chance of winning a meal / a weekend stay / a spa break / an iPad / etc“.

You may even be troubled that some of your competitors are doing them and they seem to be working, and they’re getting away with it.

I’ve run quite a few Facebook training seminars (next one is 10th June just outside Derry, if you’re interested – details here: Facebook for Business training) and this usually comes up, as it’s something whereby you can grow the likes on a page very quickly, which is, after all, what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Actually no, it isn’t.

If you’re only chasing likes on your page so you can spread your sales message wider, then you don’t really understand Facebook. A better goal is long-term engagement with people who may actually at some stage do business with you, which like and share competitions don’t deliver.

And here’s 7 reasons why they don’t:

Reason 1. They’re against Facebook’s T & C’s and could get your page shut down, either temporarily or permanently. This would be a case of shoot first and ask questions later (I seem to be obsessed with shooting in this post!), and you can guess how difficult it may be to get your page back again when you’re one of over a billion customers!Velvet Burger Facebook page deleted

I’m still surprised at the number of page owners who are not aware of this, and if you’re not familiar with these T & C’s, then you probably need to familiarise yourself with them here: Facebook Guidelines for Promotions.

But then it’s not surprising  that it’s not widely known, as Facebook don’t really publicise it, rather they tend to direct users toward third-party apps to run these, and the app developers are the ones tasked with ensuring they meet these T & C’s.

A few main points are that you can’t have someone enter a competition by the act of liking, sharing, commenting, posting, or any other Facebook function – you must use one of the third-party apps to do it properly (more about this in my next post), and you can’t notify a winner via your page. Facebook do have an automated system for detecting these contests, and it is very easy for anyone to report one (a competitor, a disgruntled customer, etc).

Get enough reports and you could be logging in one day, and have the dreaded message:

“Hello, Your Page has been removed for violating our Terms of Use.” 

One recent example is Velvet Burger, a gourmet burger company with 3 outlets in New Zealand, who had worked hard to build almost 10,000 likes on their Facebook page, and then ran one of these competitions. Their page was deleted overnight – please see their “Gonebook” message to their customers in the graphic above.

And please don’t think it can’t happen to you – these “illegal” contests are one of the biggest problems Facebook has which impacts their advertising revenue, and when the bottom line is affected, organisations tend to become very focused. They have become much better at detecting these over the last year, and make no mistake, they are circling!

Reason 2. You can’t see all the entries – depending on how your likers privacy settings are set, you probably will only be able to see a portion of the actual shares, therefore not everyone will have an equal chance. To see what I mean, if you go to any post which has a decent number of shares (on yours or someone else’s page), the number you can see rarely matches the total number, and at the bottom of the shares you’ll see the message “Some posts may not appear here because of their privacy settings.”  (see the example below)

Facebook View Shares graphic

This means they won’t be entered in your competition, and that’s unfair, and when people find out about something being unfair, they can get unhappy, and making people unhappy on social media could damage your brand. (by the way, the same applies if you enter one of the like and share contests – your entry may not register based on your personal profile privacy settings)

Reason 3. They don’t actually result in many new likes – in the good ol’ days (i.e. more than a year ago), it used to be the case that your page could be set so that someone could only like a post or comment if they actually liked your page first, but this is no longer the case. So what your competition users are usually doing is liking a post, not liking your page (you can specifically request them to like the page as part of the process, but they don’t have to, unless you’re using an app).

This means that it’s a short-term interaction, and doesn’t mean that you can communicate with them on a long-term basis.

Reason 4. They don’t result in customer loyalty – even if you do manage to gain some extra likes, because it’s a transient interaction, it doesn’t actually mean that your gathering potential customers (isn’t that one of the reasons you’re there in the first place?). Your likers and sharers may be competition or freebie chasers (and who doesn’t love a freebie? ;-), who are unlikely to ever interact with your business again, let alone become a customer.

Reason 5. They encourage spam – Think about it, what you’re doing is making your likes spam their friends Facebook walls with your sales messages / adverts. Most like and share contest images are not  funny / educational / value-adding – they’re just an advert. People don’t like to see ads in their newsfeed that are (usually) of little relevance to them, and this can turn people away from your brand.

Is that what you want?

Reason 6. You don’t actually know anything about your likes – What do you actually know about someone who “likes” your Facebook page? Well, very little, actually, apart from their name. You can’t download from Facebook any information about your likes, nor do you have permission to contact them away from Facebook. Do it properly however (with that third-party app), and your competition can result in other contact information useful for marketing purposes (email address, mobile no, address, etc)

Reason 7. Picking a winner is an unfair processbecause you can’t download all your entrants to a spreadsheet, or any kind of list to pick a random winner, and because not everyone who actually shares your competition is going to show up on the list anyway (see no 2), then picking a winner means you have to be “creative”, and slightly unethical. And as I said above, in today’s world of ever-increasing transparency, people don’t like that, and are quite prepared to voice their concerns, which can damage your brand.

Hopefully that helps with like and share competitions – in the next post I’ll cover how to run competitions properly.

Have you seen these competitions? Do they bother you? Do you have any experience of a page being shut down? – I’d love to know in the comments below

By the way, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to like and share this post. If you do, there’s no overnight stay in a spa for two, no Apple iPhone, or meal for two in a fancy restaurant, but at least it’ll let a few more people know about like and share competitions.

And if you don’t share it, I won’t be offended!


How suited is your Business to being on Facebook?

Facebook Business Score LogoWhether you haven’t taken the plunge yet to get your head around Facebook and start marketing your business on the platform, or you’ve already started (well, everyone else is on it, aren’t they!), but you just don’t seem to be getting any traction, then this is for you.

I’ve spoken with a surprising number of business people by now who:

  • Are not on Facebook yet, but toying with the idea
  • Have been told that they need to get on it because everyone else is
  • Are on it, but don’t really know why or what they’re doing (I think this is the biggest group!)
  • Don’t post that much, as they don’t really know what to post about
  • Have set up a page, got some likes, but don’t really know where to go from there.

Recognise anyone in that list?

There is no doubt that used properly, Facebook is a powerful marketing tool, but it’s like any other tool, it has to be used properly

But your business also has to be suited to Facebook marketing in the first place

And you also have to have something to say, on a regular basis, apart from “Here’s our latest offer . . . “ or “15% off this week”, or “Like our page and share this picture with your friends to win . . . “ (Grrrr – separate post coming soon about this one!)

So to deal with the first one, is your Business suited to marketing on Facebook?

Are you likely to gain any marketing traction from your well-thought out regular Facebook posts?

I’ve come up with a simple quiz / questionnaire to try to help you with the above, and give you some guiidance as to whether or not you should focus on Facebook, or move on and stop banging your head on that wall!

Remember it’s for guidance only, but hopefully it helps.

Click the link below, and take the quiz – I’ll come back to you with your score based on your answers.

Facebook Business Score Quiz

And if you’re in the North West area, and any of the above applies to you, I’m running a seminar for you on 22nd April which may be of interest – click the image below for details:


Facebook for Business Seminar Derry Londonderry

Facebook’s New Replies Feature: Available on your Page today

Facebook new Repies FeatureFacebook today roll out more changes for Pages & brands, with an option to opt in to a feature which will hopefully make it easier to have conversations on your page – their new Replies feature.

Basically this means that no longer will comments appear in a straight line below your original post. Once you turn on the feature, users can either Comment on your post, or Reply to a comment already there from another user, meaning that conversations will be much easier to follow.

Another facet of this new feature is that the most active conversations will appear higher up your page, the intention being that users see the most engaging conversations when they visit.

This will be particularly useful for pages which tend to attract a lot of comments. Previously when one comment refered to / answered another one away above it, I always thought made it difficult to follow the thread of a conversation. (For example, a post with 100+ comments, and near the end someone comments “I agree with John above” – it can be difficult to find John’s comment above)

For now, the feature is only available on the desktop version, so mobile apps will not be included as yet. Also for now it’s an optin feature (i.e. you can choose not to use it), but on 10th July it will be introduced to pages and brands across the network (and also profiles with more than 10,000 followers)

If you’d like a full description of the feature from Facebook, there, see here: New Facebook Replies Feature

Opting in is easy – next time you log into your Facebook page you will see the following graphic:

Facebook new replies feature option graphic

Just click “Turn on Replies”, and that’s it!


5 Simple Tips to Take Advantage of the New Facebook changes

Facebook Timelines Changing ImageFacebook announced a few weeks back that their newsfeed has been given a revamp, (you should see yours changing as they roll it out over the next few weeks), and you may also have recently heard of the introduction of “Graph / Social Search”, which is in beta test at the minute (basically meaning that Facebook will soon be moving into providing a search facility).

“So what?” you may think.

Well, I’ve delivered quite a few training sessions on how to use Facebook in business, and one of the things that still surprises me is how much confusion there still is on how to use it properly for business. So I thought this may be a good opportunity to outline a few tweaks you could make now (they’re good practice anyway), which will help your page when the changes happen.

Here’s 5 simple tips which I hope will help:

1. Keep it visual – Make sure you have a good profile and cover photo (Your cover photo is your biggest branding opportunity – use it well!). Below is the Facebook cover image from, a site run by a friend of mine, Jacqueline McGonigle. This is an example of a good cover image – professional, features the brand, and you just take one look at the cover image and you know exactly what the site is about. Whats on NI Facebook Cover Image This image will become even more important in the new news feed, as when someone likes your page, it’s your cover photo, and not your profile pic that will appear in their timeline, so make it a good one.

2. Facebook say of the redesign: “You’ll still see all the stories you saw in your News Feed before, but with a fresh new look: photos, news articles, maps, and events all stand out even more”. So the new look news feed will display photos and videos larger, so if you don’t do it already, use photos & videos more in your posts – they’ll stand out even more, and they’re proven to increase engagement with your users

Facebook new newsfeed example3. Tag people in your photos and videos – OK this isn’t directly related to the incoming changes, but it’s still good practice, and a really good way to have your photos shared / appear on more timelines, and get the most out of each photo. If you’re not connected to some people in the photo, then ask the ones you are connected with to tag their friends. Facebook Tagged Photo Example

4. Make sure your “About” section is fully completed – Name, Category, Web Address, Location (as precise as you can, which incidentally will also mean you’re more likely to show up under the “Nearby” facility on mobile devices).

You should also complete the Description section, and use keywords. For example, don’t just enter “Printing and Stationery” – what do you actually do? Graphic Design? Litho Printing? Business Cards? Banners? Put them all in there. You could also  think of including a call to action, to get those interested enough to do a little bit more than just “Like” your page (visit your site / sign up to your newsletter / download your free app / etc).

The new design is intended to be more mobile-focused and give a similar look and feel between desktop and mobile. The “About” section will become much more important when Facebook’s new Graph Search is fully rolled out, and people start searching Facebook for “hairdressers in Belfast”, “printers in Dublin”, “show me who does laser hair removal in Derry”, etc

5. Use milestones The date you opened your business / the date you moved to bigger premises / when got your premises renovated / when you added a new printing machine (if you’re a printing business, that is!) – hopefully you get the idea. This was introduced last year, and it’s a quite often forgotten opportunity to tell part of your business story. By the way these milestones don’t have to be the ones since you joined Facebook – you can backdate (see example milestone below from Ford’s Facebook page in 1908 – which I think may have been even before Facebook was introduced! 😉

Ford Model T Facebook Milestone

And don’t forget that photo or video to make the milestone stand out more

Hope that helps – as usual, any questions just comment below


How Local Food Providers can use the Horsemeat Scandal to gain some Marketing Capital

Support your Local Butcher image

Image courtesy of Wurz on Flickr

The recent horsemeat food scandal, which started with an Irish lab finding horse DNA in one batch of frozen burgers from a Monaghan-based food processing plant, has now escalated to a massive European-wide can of worms.

Many people (myself included) were probably not aware of the fact (or maybe we didn’t want to think too much about) that the processed meat pack you buy from certain supermarket chains, has actually a massive chain of middlemen involved in it, stretching across Ireland, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Romania.

Who knew?

Essentially globalisation of the food industry has led to an expansion of the supply chain, and  consequently a control issue where it becomes very difficult to cross-check everything.

So now we have a crisis of consumer confidence, and a thread which has been pulled and is just going to keep unravelling and getting worse (as I write this traces have been found in school & hospital dinners, people are starting to get arrested, and processing facilities raided and closed down – I think it’s far from over)

So what does all this mean for your local business / SME if you’re in the food business?

Well, it’s stating the obvious to say that this is on consumers’ minds at the minute (and just in case they forget, the blanket news coverage of this Pandora’s Box will provide daily reminders)

And that’s what you can capitalise on as a local provider.

If you’re a local butcher, it’s an opportunity to reinforce the message that you provide locally sourced meat which can be traced back to the very farm the animal came from (if you can claim this). A chance to get the message out on your social media channels, website / blog, local newspapers, local radio, etc. and differentiate yourself in your market.

Same if you’re a local restaurant / hotel and you source locally and are confident in being able to back up that claim.

It’s a chance to gain some marketing capital and turn the tide on the big players who have been chipping away at your business for so long.

Here’s a local example of making the most of the PR opportunity: Derry Journal horse meat scandal article

And another from a UK trade association of independent butchers: The Guardian horse meat scandal article

Opportunities like this don’t come along often. Now is the time to strike.

Before the stable door is closed.


Case Study of a Successful Groupon Marketing Campaign

Daily Deal sites chalkboard graphicI’ve had a few people ask me about this over the past few weeks, and thought it would be useful to add it here also. This is a case study of a Groupon voucher deal I ran for a client in 2011, which I think is still relevant today.

This was featured in the Irish Business Blog Bloggertone (now called Tweak Your Biz) on June 15th 2011, and in the Sunday Business Post on June 27th 2011 as an example of a successful Groupon marketing campaign (there’s a subscription required to see the Sunday Business Post version)

If you’ve ever thought about running a Groupon deal (or other voucher provider) to try to generate some additional business, then have a  read, and as ever, comments welcome below.

Here goes:


Derrynoid Centre was a Conference & Training Centre with 40 en-suite rooms, restaurant & bar, leisure suite, nestled within a 250-acre forest in Draperstown (right in the middle of Northern Ireland)

northern ireland map

The problem:

Conference tableThe main customer base had historically been groups for conferences & training in the business, community and voluntary sector, with the subsequent spin-off from these groups for the accommodation / restaurant / bar.

On analysing occupancy rates I found that the centre followed the pattern for Northern Ireland B & B Occupancy rates, except for during the holiday periods (in particular Summer and Easter). During July & August 2010, the NI Average occupancy was 43% and 48% respectively, whereas theirs dropped to 6% and 10% in comparison, due to an over-reliance on the Conference and training market.

The objective:

Derrynoid Centre front imageThey wanted to promote their B & B business to the tourism & leisure sector, as they were ideally suited to that market, and it would also allow them to even out the seasonal fluctuations in demand in the conference / training sector.

To address the imbalance, it was identified that they had an excellent product offering, but their issue was one of limited brand awareness.

We identified Groupon as a vehicle for reaching a large audience very quickly, with an immediate impact.

After researching the downside of this type of voucher offer, I was confident of making this work, and sat down with the client and set the objectives for the campaign:

  1. Raise awareness of the facility within the B & B market in NI
  2. Retain the ability to upsell any customers who booked through Groupon
  3. Develop a customer retention program for all Groupon deal purchasers to encourage a second visit.
  4. Encourage TripAdvisor reviews to further enhance our marketing opportunity, and brand awareness

The deal:

Upon contacting Groupon, I was impressed and found them to be extremely professional – they are a well-oiled marketing machine. With their help we put together a deal (see graphic above) based on an experience for customers (Dinner + Wine + Bed & Breakfast).

The discount was set at 61% (their minimum for our sector is 60%), which with their fees (50% + VAT) left the deal just below break-even point for every voucher sold, but which the client were prepared to do Derrynoid Restaurant picturefor the new customer acquisition.

The deal was set so that if someone wanted to come here and not spend anything else, they would have a really good experience just with the Groupon deal.

However we anticipated that a percentage at least would have such a good experience that they would spend extra on further wine / drinks / dessert / extra nights accommodation, which is exactly what happened (see results)

We built in several opportunities for upsell during the customer journey (which did not attract the Groupon commission, so they retained 100% of this income)

  1. When they rang to book, they were offered a second night at a discount rate
  2. The meal included a glass of wine, any further drinks were additional
  3. The meal was 2 course starter and main – dessert was additional
  4. When they checked out they were asked for their email address, and told by check out staff that they would receive an offer to come back for a second visit. The majority were happy to receive this, and the re-book rate worked well for the centre.

After also reading the horror stories of other offers (on both the business side and the customer side, we decided on the following:

  1. We would be as prepared as possible for an increase in call volume when the vouchers became active
  2. There would be no restrictions as to when voucher holders could book (midweek or weekend)
  3. Every Groupon voucher customer would be treated exactly the same as a full-paying customer

The live day:

The deal started 8/3/11 as a side offer and trundled along nicely, selling approximately 2 per hour. During the day it then moved to be the main feature, and then started to really move – ending up selling 426 vouchers by the time the offer closed, with which we were all delighted.

The voucher active day:

The vouchers became active on 11/3/11, and the phones rang off the hook for 2 days (nice problem to have but I was conscious that this was one of the main bugbears of voucher buyers – that they can’t get through to make their reservation). The Reception staff worked very hard returning a lot of answering machine messages during the next few days to try and ensure everyone was sorted.

We put a very simple system in place for collecting the various reference numbers required, and forwarding them to Groupon regularly to make the claim for reimbursement. They paid vouchers for holders who have made a reservation within 5 days of claim, and I found them to stick pretty close to this (maybe a day or two after, but no later)

The review:

At the time of writing (June 2011) they had an 88% redemption rate on the vouchers, most of whom had completed their visit. They had taken an average of 31 Groupon vouchers (i.e. 62 customers) per week since the offer went live, and their bar and restaurant takings were up by 26% over last year.

Derrynoid Tripadvisor review

  • We added virtually every Groupon visitor to a newly created email database to receive further offers, and upon the first email offer to these subscribers, they had a 12% uptake for these customers to book again to revisit (at that time according to Groupon, the average re-book rate was 2-3%)
  • Before they started we had 1 review on Tripadvisor, at time of writing there are 21 and counting, with the vast majority being very positive.
  • As another benefit from the offer, several of the Groupon guests were members of various large organisations who use off-site conference and training facilities, and the client are now able to pursue these much more effectively than they would if they had to start with a cold call.
  • Some people came and spent nothing additional and had a good experience. If you’re going to go down this avenue, that will happen. However many came and spent more when they were there. The average additional spend per voucher was £27.50
  • All in all Groupon worked very well and achieved all the objectives we had set. It can be extremely effective at delivering a huge amount of extra customers, but you just need to have a clear strategy as to what to do with those customers when they visit, and then afterwards to make it work for your business.

(We have just completed our second Groupon voucher offering, where we sold 255 vouchers in 2 days (slightly higher price this time). This time we learned from our previous experience and Groupon set in place for us an online booking system for customers’ convenience so that we wouldn’t have the huge call volume and frustration at not being able to get through.)


Marketing your Consultancy: “I know it’s our first date, but let’s get married!”

Consultancy Marketing Proposal PicJohnny’s both nervous and excited. He’s on his way to his first date with Amanda, and the butterflies in his stomach are doing cartwheels. He has the flowers bought, he’s wearing his favourite shirt, and there’s a very nice restaurant table with his name on it booked for 7:30.

He arrives at Amanda’s front door and manages to get the butterflies in his stomach to fly in some sort of organised fashion as he rings the doorbell and stands back to wait.

The door swings open and Amanda appears before him. “Wow!” he thinks and hands her the flowers, stuttering “You look gorgeous

Dinner goes well, conversation is great, and as they are waiting on dessert to arrive, Johnny takes a deep breath and asks “Look, I know it’s our first date, but let’s get married”

Amanda’s mouth drops open, and awkward silence and stuttering ensues, but she manages to get her thoughts together and reply “Let’s get to know each other first

What she’s really thinking is “Get me out of here!!

Too much, too soon.

Let’s apply the same thinking to your website – when someone arrives at your website, are the only 2 options to buy or leave?

If they are, then unless you’re marketing a low-value / mass-market / impulse buy product or service, you should have an option for those visitors who aren’t ready to buy yet, but might after they get to know you.

And this is especially true if you offer any sort of consulting service.

What if you offer them something in exchange for their name and email address? Build a list of potential clients who are interested in your product or service, and build a relationship with them over a period of time?

One way is with an e-book / free report / white paper. Identify who your ideal customer is, and then figure out what their burning questions are about your industry.

For example. let’s say you’re an orthodontist. You create beautiful smiles for your clients. Your know your ideal client is someone who earns above x, lives in a certain postcode area, cares about their looks, etc

You may already offer a free first consultation to try to get me as a potential client through the door, therefore my choice on your website is either to come in for a free consultation, or leave your website and (probably) not come back.

But what if you went a step further? Offer me as a visitor to your website a free report including lesser known tips on improving my smile / pointers on how treatment will benefit me / things I didn’t know about teeth straightening / etc. And I can download it just by entering my first name and email address.

Then I have a third option if I’m not quite ready for a consultation yet, and I’ve also got something I can easily read in my own time, and I haven’t made a commitment to do anything.

You, on the other hand, have got an email address for someone who’s pre-qualified themselves as being interested in your services, and (after the initial set-up) it didn’t cost you anything, or take up any time for you or your staff.

You can now start to build a relationship, send more useful tips, send me an e-card at Christmas / Easter / New Year / etc, and I can get to know you better. Become familiar with your brand.

Then maybe we can look at taking it a stage further!


Olympics Rings London 2012I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked on the Olympics at the minute. I’m normally not that obsessed with sport, but with this I’m watching everything I can.

Can’t get enough of it.

The highs, the lows, the controversies, the drama, and everything in between – I’m hooked!

And one thing struck me as I was watching the athletics and track events the other day, which I think illustrates a lesson in marketing.

Let me explain.

Growing up I was into music rather than sport. So I started my Olympic-viewing journey with a very basic knowledge about some of the sports, and I can’t claim to have known very many of the athletes (of course I knew the big names like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, etc)

For the first few events I watched these athletes put their life and soul into trying to win a medal.

I watched as a local girl, Aileen Morrison, had her hopes of a triathlon medal scuppered by a bike crash. She was injured, but finished the race anyway despite that. When interviewed afterwards, she fought back tears to say that she had spent 4 years getting ready for this, and she wasn’t going to lie down at the first hurdle – pretty inspiring stuff!

Mo Farah

Mo Farah at the London 2012 Olympics

But it was when I watched a short documentary about UK distance runner Mo Farah that I realised something. The documentary explained how, at 28 years old, Farah was probably competing in his last Olympics. Born in Somalia, he had moved to England aged 8, and had been beaten up on his first day at school, after which he jumped off a bridge.

After huge encouragement from his PE Teacher, he pursued long-distance running, in which he had had many successes, but an Olympic medal had always eluded him.

He was considered by many to be “talented but flawed”

It then explained how last year, he relocated his family from the UK to Oregon, USA, to immerse himself in running culture and work with coaching guru Alberto Salazar (a man who incidentally had once died for 14 minutes!)

And here he was today, competing in the 2012 Olympics. After all that commitment to being the best.

Now, there were probably other athletes who had equally inspiring stories, but I hadn’t heard them.

So after learning all that about how Mo Farah came to be here today, I felt a bit more connected, and I really wanted him to win

So what? I hear you say.

Well. let’s translate that to marketing your business. You see, people love stories. Especially if there’s some triumph, struggle and perserverance in there (which, if you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll have plenty of).

And if you can use that in your marketing you can gain an edge over your competitors.

You have a story, so tell it:

  • How did you come to start your business?
  • Where did the idea come from?
  • Who told you were mad?
  • How did it do in the early days?
  • What struggles have you had?
  • What successes have you had?

Basically how you came to be here today.

Telling your Business Story image

Tell your Business Story

When people know more about you, they are more likely to relate to you, and support your business

It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be chapter and verse. But if I know more about you, then (as long as I’m in the market to buy from you), I’m more likely to do so over another generic company I know nothing about.

So go and write your story – put it on your website About Me page, on your brochures, and put it up in your Reception area (if you have one).

Your prospects will read it (as will your customers), and will feel a little bit more connected to you.

It’s an easy way of standing out in your marketplace through all the noise and differentiating yourself from your competition

It’s just about stacking the odds in your favour.

Now I’m off to shout for Mo Farah to win the 5,000m gold!

By Aidan Breslin – Google+

How “Sticky” is your website?

Honey JarsTo you, your business is probably one of the most fascinating things in your life. As an SME owner you most likely live, eat, sleep and breathe your business, and you could talk about it all day long.

Just in case you’re under any illusion that it’s as fascinating to other people, then I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

It’s not.

And neither is your web site.

In these days of a huge level of online “noise”, there are so many others competing for visitors attention (and, ultimately, business) your website should do a lot more than just tell people who you are and what you do. It should go a bit further and actually do a job for you.

It needs to be “Sticky“, and it needs to pass the “WIIFM” (What’s in it for Me?) test

It should:

  1. Grab their attention
  2. Keep them there for a while
  3. (Ideally) get them to leave their details as someone who is interested in what you do.

So how do you do that?

Well, it depends on your business, but some examples of what you could do are:

  • Special web-only offers / discounts / coupons
  • Don’t make your site all about you – if your home page reads something like “We’ve been in business for x years and we believe in delivering quality customer service every time . . . etc” or something similar, you probably need to change it – remember WIIFM (by all means have that on your “About Us” page.
  • Have content on your site which is related to your business (for example:

HR consultant? – possibly articles & advice about current HR issues;

Accountant?  – again, articles & advice about tax returns or accountancy developments

Marketing consultant? – articles & advice about how to market better ;-).

Make it of use to the reader, and not a sales pitch for how great you are (remember the “WIIFM” test)

However no 3 above is, I believe, the most important job your website can do.

You probably have a measurement of the number of visitors to your site on a regular basis (or if you don’t, you should), and if so, you’ll know that you have x number of visitors per month.

When they visit your site, look around and leave, do you know who they are?

Do you make any attempt to try and get their details?

If not, then it’s a bit like going to an event and meeting lots of business people and not getting any of their business cards. Effectively the relationship is over, unless you happen by chance to meet again.

Same for your site – why not at least try and get some of your visitors to tell you who they are? If you give people enough of a reason to leave some contact details, then a percentage of them will do so.

Take my site, for example – if you have a look on the right hand side you’ll see that you can download a free e-book “7 Small Business Marketing Mistakes you may be making right now, and how to fix them” – if you enter your first name and email address, confirm your request, it’ll be sent to you straight away, free.

There’s no catch, no hard sell, you won’t get spammed, and hopefully you’ll find something in there which will help in your business. You can even download it and then unsubscribe straight away if you wish, and you won’t hear from me again (although I can’t think why you’d do that – then you’d be missing out on all this marketing wisdom! ;-))

Can you translate that to your business – is there anything you could allow your website visitors to have if they leave their details?

What information would it be useful for them to have that you can provide in exchange for their email address? (remember the WIIFM test – it has to be useful for them)

Could you put it in e-book / video / podcast or some other digital format?

If you can do that, then you would be on the way to gathering the details of some of your website visitors, rather than have them visit your site and then leave without saying hello!

By Aidan Breslin – Google+

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