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Interview: QuantumRE Founder Matthew Sullivan

Recently Ben got the opportunity to interview Matthew Sullivan on how his company QuantumRE, is helping people release the equity in their home using a system based on the blockchain (this is the same technology used by Bitcoin).

He had a fascinating career before this even working on ventures with Richard Branson.

 

Image Credit: QuantumRE Founder Matthew Sullivan

The Power of GIFS – Why you should use them within your marketing

In the most basic form, a GIF is a series of still images or a short piece of video compiled together into a short animation on a continuous loop that is suitable for online platforms. It was first developed in 1987 but never quite took off until the early 2000’s. So why is the GIF so compelling and mesmerising in this digital era?

In an instant world, we want instant content, instant feedback and instant understanding. A GIF is easy to consume; within a matter of seconds. We can easily punctuate an emotion, highlight a personality or explain a process within a blink of an eye.

Growing increasingly popular on social media and blog posts, the GIF can have a profound impact on your marketing.. The New York times recorded that Tumblr had 23 million GIFs posted to it’s site a day and when Facebook first started to support GIFs within their messaging app 5 million animations were being sent each day.

Here are 5 reasons how you could use a GIF within your marketing

1. Use GIFs to highlight your company’s culture

2. Animate your email marketing

3. Sneaky preview of a video

4. Show off a product or offer

5. Use GIFs as a call to action

The advantages

  • GIFs are simple to make whether you want to use a short video clip or a collection of still images there are various sites online where you can access free software and customise your GIF within a matter of seconds. Some sites we would recommend are gifmaker , giphy and giphy capture.
  • Unlike Flash animation, viewers do not need to have special plug-ins on their web browsers, which means that your GIF will simply automatically play and you won’t risk it being blocked via the user’s web browser.
    Due to the nature of the GIF it can be compressed without too much distortion allowing you to keep the file size small which allows you to minimise any delay it would have on the page speed.
  • They are easy to make, use and to embed on your site as you simply treat them like a still image.

… and the disadvantages

  • With everything in life, less is most definitely more so don’t get too carried away and try to cram as many onto one page as you can as it will slow down your page loading speed if you embed large numbers of them whilst making your web pages look cheap and unprofessional.
  • GIFs are ideal for social media and webpages but as they are capped by a colour depth of 256 bit they can give a blocky, pixelated, low quality appearance if shown on a high definition screen.
  • Dithering is a term which helps to band gradients of colour in a GIF to prevent harsh colour contrasts however, it can restrict compression and make the final file size pretty large, which will ultimately slow down your website.
  • It is key to try and work out the right speed and the number of frames you would like to use as if there is not enough frames the GIF can be too jerky and irritating.

 

Finally a simple note of caution, if you are a company and are wanting to post GIFs regularly be cautious of using copyrighted work on social media. To be safe, we would always recommend you create your own.

So maybe it’s about time you added the GIF to your marketing toolkit.

 

GIFs Courtesy of Giphy

Is blogging worth the effort? Three reasons it is worth the slog and how it benefits your marketing

Person typing on a keyboard

How can you compete with the online market but still provide a personal service? Despite being seen as old hat; regular, relevant blogging can perform well for you.

As we strive for faster, better connected, portable technology the world of business is rapidly changing and more of us are dipping online for our every purchase. Organisations are losing the ability to meet customers face to face to build genuine rapport, to create a memorable service and add that personal touch. Yet, it might surprise you to know that many of us still seek friendly, personable approach from the platform of our online avatars.

Here are three ways blogging could help your business:

1. You build trust with your customers

Whether it’s an informative article or a more informal account of what is happening in your business. The more information you share online through articles on your site, the more this will help capture your audience. By writing and sharing something of true value you are instinctively building trust with your customer by proving that you know what you are talking about. You could even start a conversation with your customers by asking your readers a question or by simply allowing them to feedback and comment on your posts. Allowing you to build a rapport and gain valuable feedback and an insight into what your customers are looking for.

2. You can become an industry leader in your business

Informative and educational articles are where you will capture today’s audience. If we want to know something we ask Google, from ‘how to fix our washing machine’ to learning how to perfect a certain recipe in a matter of seconds. By sharing helpful tips and tricks, insider knowledge will make you more memorable and possibly prompt a return visit or even a recommendation. In taking the time to share this information your business will gain more credibility when you are competing against the bigger more corporate businesses.

3. It can boost your SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position)

Uploading regular, valuable content to your website will also help boost your website up the Google ranks. Search engines favour sites with fresh, relevant content as it increases the amount of time that is spent on the site, reduces the bounce rate and increases the number of pages visited per session. What better way to create regular content than blogging. It provides new content for the search engines to index whilst providing those all-important keywords to increase your visibility online. Don’t forget all of the content you are gathering could be translated into a video at a later date!

 

Not sure where to start and need some inspiration for own blog?

If you love the idea of a blog but don’t feel confident in your writing skills – or simply don’t have time – then you should consider whether a professional writer can take the stress away and help keep you on top of your content schedule.

Our Rather Inventive copywriters have worked in a range of different industries and sectors, such as interiors, education and engineering and they regularly deliver unique and relevant content suitable for each of our customer’s markets.

Here’s are a few of our clients who use blog articles as a key element of their marketing:

  • Selmach Machinery has started using their blogs as a way to storyboard their how-to and overview videos.
  • Tileflair shares in-depth knowledge and understanding of their product range to help equip their customer’s to make a decision on what would be best for them.
  • Auspicious Kitchens uses blogging as a way to share tips and advice while also showcasing their level of experience and knowledge.
  • Gemini Refurb uses blogs to help answer customer questions and to get them thinking about their options.

Building relationships with your customers can only lead to success, so it’s worthing investing in.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Interview: Minx Media Founder Heidi Chamberlain-Jones

For this interview Ben heads over to Herefordshire to meet with Heidi Chamberlain-Jones the force behind Minx Media, a business development consultancy but also the founder of Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire a much needed destination marketing company and events portal for the area.

They talk about why online directories are still relevant, the importance of mixed marketing for businesses and what’s great about Herefordshire.

 

Image Credit: Minx Media Founder Heidi Chamberlain-Jones and Ben Kinnaird

Something Inventive 27: Science of SEO

Al and Ben are joined by Chris Richards to discuss how he’s improved the search optimisation for his businesses through single-variant tests making SEO a science rather than guesswork.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by our SEO report

Check out our laser focused SEO report. If you need to build up your traffic then this report is for you! Mention our podcast when your order and get 10% off.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman–Image courtesy of Pixabay

Prepare your business for road bumps

With more than 600,000 small businesses set up in the UK each year, it’s almost expected that many will fail – with some sources quoting up to 80% of small businesses failing within the first year. But prepare yourself for some road bumps and your business could stay the course.

Whatever the precise failure rate is, it is not insignificant. It’s tough work keeping a business afloat and it takes a special kind of person to weather the storm. Someone who is not put off by the failure stats (or they feel safe in the knowledge that their venture will be different). But it also takes someone who knows that there will be many bumps along the way and is prepared for them.

Whatever your reason for setting up your small business, you need to be aware of the risks. Whether you want to be free from the shackles of a corporation, or feel you have a specialist skill or you feel highly motivated to sell a particular product or service, perhaps you are a woman returning to work and looking for a new opportunity to be self-employed – you will need to be the type of person who can overcome hurdles and obstacles and push through when things get tough.

On a recent interview for our podcast we asked Matt Watson from Stakify how he overcame hurdles in business. “Well, it’s always a struggle when you’re trying to start a business … The reason I keep going more than anything is that I’m passionate about what I do, I’m passionate about the problem I want to solve, and I don’t want to fail – failure is not an option so we ask how can we keep moving forward. Whatever the hurdle is we’ve got to figure it out, keep going.”

But how do you ensure that your business will be a rip-roaring success rather than simply a means of throwing away your savings and spending long hours at tasks you are tragically unprepared for? There are some obstacles that most businesses will face at some point, and it’s your passion to see the business survive that will help you over them.

In another interview with Gina GeoGhegan, of Wild Fizz Kombucha, we asked her what it takes to get through the tough times. “If the sole reason is cash, you know ‘I wanna be a millionaire’, then don’t do it – you need to have passion. It’s the passion that takes you through, that makes you, on a Saturday night at 3am, with a newborn child, to try to figure out how you’re gonna pay for the next production line. That’s what keeps you going. You have to really love it. You have to believe in what you’re doing, and you have to love it.”

Just like in life, it is these roadblocks that can either make your business stronger and more resilient, or it can break you, and you end up as one of the business failure stats. But you can take steps to avoid the latter. The first of which is to recognise that setbacks are inevitable and to see them as opportunities to grow.

“…you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming—or possibly thriving because of—them. Where one person sees a crisis, another can see opportunity. Where one is blinded by success, another sees reality with ruthless objectivity…” Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage

When you experience a setback, you can get bogged down or you can grow. What distinguishes a successful business from a failure is whether you get discouraged and contemplate giving up or you embrace the setback, learn from it and move on.

One crucial step in helping your business succeed is to be aware of the main problems that will tip the balance between a successful business and a failure. These could be…

Finding customers – A tricky one for new businesses. If you don’t know where your customers are likely to hang out, then you can’t tempt them with your product or service. There are multiple ways to place your offer in front of your ideal customer, find the one that works for your business. Read this excellent tutorial on how to use Facebook to find clients.

Lack of capital – While some small business owners assume they need access to a considerable sum in the beginning, others think that this can lead to uncontrolled spending and poor decisions. Staying as debt-free as possible helps you to avoid tying the company up and allows your business to grow at a manageable rate. Keep overhead and operating expenses to a minimum in the first couple of years.

Getting paid – When you’re running a small business, your primary focus is going to be on acquiring new customers and clients, but this can be to the detriment of your accounts receivable. Be organised and invest in accounting and invoicing software to ensure your customers are being invoiced and are paying you on time. Stay in control and maintain cash reserves if you can.

Employees – Your employees are the face of your business so make sure you choose wisely. Just one great member can be the making of your business and adversely one harmful team member can be the downfall of it. When you have the best team possible, make sure they know that they are important to the business by offering regular praise and acknowledgement. They will need constant motivation to perform at peak level.

Marketing – There’s little point dipping your toe into numerous marketing ponds and hoping something will bite, this just wastes your time and money. You’re much better off with only one or two channels that you feel most comfortable with, and mastering these.

Also, once you have customers, you must do what is necessary to keep them. So create long-term customers and keep them happy with regular contact such as email marketing so that you spend less on attracting more customers.

Burn out – As a business owner, you probably spend way too many hours at work, which can become exhausting. Study after study has shown that too long hours at work can adversely affect productivity and can lead to burn out very quickly. Schedule in plenty of time out and then you can face adversity with a fresh perspective. Start with a sustainable working week – aim for 40 hours.

Scaling revenue – In such a competitive marketplace you must find ways to scale your revenue by creating upsells, raising your prices and marketing your product or service as a premium brand. Focus on constant growth to move forward and upward.

Learn the lessons – With every failure or setback there is a lesson, make sure you understand what it is. There are also many others who have experienced setbacks in their business who are willing to share this with others. Socialise with people who’ve been there, done that, and learned the key lessons. But also read, listen to audio books and podcasts to see how others have overcome their hurdles.

Everyone who has successfully run a business, from the multi-millionaire author to the successful small business entrepreneur – has experienced obstacles. There will always be one lurking around the corner. Know that it will happen at some point, have a strategy for dealing with it and you’ll be better equipped to keep your business on solid ground.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Interview: Stackify with Matt Watson

On this episode Ben interviewed Matt Watson. He’s been an entrepreneur since he can remember selling his first business at 29 for over 140 Million dollars. He now runs Stackify, Fullscale.io, as well as few other side projects, and joined Ben to share some of his challenges in building the businesses and how marketing played its role.

 

Image Credit: Matt Watson, Stackify Founder.

Interview: Wild Fizz Kombucha with Gina Geoghegan

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Ben met Gina during a demonstration of how to make a fermented tea called Kombucha, at a small food fair run by River Cottage down in Axminster. He was fascinated by the process of this magical gut reviving drink but also in her passion and clarity of the presentation.

Ben caught up with Gina a few of weeks later to find out about her company Wild Fizz and how she got started. Gina’s story and openness on her business are well worth listening to.

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Invest in the seeds of your evergreen marketing

It is easy to get bogged down into the constant struggle of reeling in profitable business. And in a tight economy, it’s understandable why we might tighten our belt and trim off the frills. But it’s worth remembering that marketing is one of the key strategies for getting in that new business and building the foundations for eventual sales.

Obviously you need to be sensible, so think about your evergreen marketing; by evergreen marketing I am talking about a marketing idea or concept that will last beyond the next couple of hours, weeks or even years, perennially providing you with new strands of business.

The top four evergreen strategies I would recommend investing in are:

Video

One of the top marketing tools to give your customers value or deliver a personal touch, I cannot express how much I value video. Working around the clock on platforms like Vimeo, YouTube you are able to hook business from worldwide markets.

Whether it is a how to guide, vlog, casestudy, testimonial or product overview it will certainly benefit your business. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, less is always more and you may even be surprised at how affordable it is.

If you don’t have the capacity to create a short video, think about making a slideshow animation from images or using animated GIFS to help catch your audience’s eye.

Website Facelift

In a world of instant gratification and with many of us carrying a computer in our pockets it seems ludicrous if you do not have an online presence. A handful of pages is better than nothing. The absolute basics should be a clear message about who you are, what you can deliver and how to get in touch with you. This is often the first glimpse into your business so make the effort and make sure it gives a professional vibe.

With current online web design sites such as Squarespace or WordPress their really is no excuse. Even hiring a professional web designer is a reasonable cost for most busineses. Giving your site a facelift does not have to be expensive and often needs just a review of the text, images and search optimisation.

Don’t have a website? At the very least make sure you have an online presence using a Facebook Business page or Google My Business profile. How else will your customer’s find you?

Blogging

Informative and educational articles is where you will capture today’s audience. If we want to know something we ask Google.. delving into a world where at a click of a button we can find out how to fix our washing machine or learn how to perfect a certain recipe.

Whether it’s an informative article or a more informal account of what is happening in your business. The more information you share online through articles on your site, the more this will help capture your audience. By writing and sharing something of true value you are instinctively building trust with your customer by proving that you know what you are talking about. Sharing helpful tips and tricks will make you more memorable and possibly prompt a return visit or even a recommendation.

It will also help boost your website up the Google ranks as the search engine robots favour sites with quality and relavent content as it increases the amount of time that is spent on the site, reduces the bounce rate and increases the number of pages visited per session.

Don’t forget all of the content you are gathering could be translated into a video at a later date!

Case studies

You can huff and puff until the cows go home but nobody can sell your business more than your previous clients. When investing in a new venture or purchase the majority of people these days will search online and read the reviews to help them determine which company they would like to go with. If you are good at what you do, be open. Contact your previous customers and ask them if they would mind giving you a review or sharing some feedback. You never know you might find that you learn something from the feedback which could streamline your business further. Whether it is a short statement, written or filmed interview it will add an extra layer of authenticity whilst reminding them that you still exist and could even prompt further work.

It is important to be careful about what you invest in but don’t be afraid to invest in marketing ideas that are fun or novel as often that is the stuff that hooks in your audience. We are all bored and numb to so many of the mainstream marketing campaigns so think of how you can be different and about what your customers would find helpful.

 

Image credit: Adrenalin by Artem Bali from Pexels

Something Inventive 26: A very friendly bunch

Al and Ben are joined by seasoned podcaster and Mac enthusiast, Karl Madden to talk about the latest iteration of Intelligent Tracking Prevention from Apple. Karl also advocates that every business should get into podcasting or video.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked-off.com

Check out the sponsor ticked-off.com. When you sign up let us know and I’ll extend your trial for 2 months.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Drinking Liquor and Talking On Dining Table Close Up by Helena Lopes on Pexels

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