Opinions on business,
marketing and related technologies.

Word-of-mouth marketing – let your work be your message

I walk into my usual hairdressers. They make me feel welcome by greeting me warmly and offering me a coffee. They behave as though they want me to be there, and are pleased to be cutting my hair.  Most importantly they do a really good cut.

In return for the exceptional service I receive, I will tell anyone looking for a hairdresser about my favourite salon. I sing their praises, evangelizing about the quality of the cut and the excellent customer service.

This hairdressing salon is a little different to other businesses because it doesn’t advertise, it doesn’t have a Facebook page, and it doesn’t have a Twitter following – it doesn’t need it. This may be considered a little outdated these days, after all as a business you want to be building your clientele, but by focusing too much on followings, likes and shares you’re taking away focus on your service or product. My hairdressers don’t need to think about social media because they get enough business through word-of-mouth.

Focus on connecting, not just collecting

You probably spend an inordinate amount of your time trying to reach out to people. And to some degree, you’ll measure your success by counting the number of e-newsletters opened, or views of your products on your website pages. And, although your ‘reach’ is important what is more vital is that you give your customers what they need – a good experience in working with you.

Be good at what you do and care about your customer’s experience and you won’t need to spend so much time promoting yourself by other means. Create customer experiences worthy of being passed from person-to-person and people will flock to you.

Word-of-mouth is still the original and most powerful way to influence business results. The quality of your work and your customer service will be all the advertising you need because this form of marketing is what your consumers trust above all others.

But what if word-of-mouth recommendations are not forthcoming?

Asking for feedback reminds people about your business and gets them to think about your company or product. The ‘How would you describe us to a friend?’ question forces them to think about, and create a concrete opinion to you. If people form an opinion of you then they are more likely to share that opinion with others.

Advertising or promoting yourself on social media is not fundamental for success. If you’re adverse to Twitter or Facebook (or any other social media platforms), or you simply don’t have the time or inclination, then don’t bother with a half-hearted attempt. Instead create a wonderful experience for your existing business clients. Create happy customers, and they will send many new ones in your direction.

Image credit: Midnight Believer, Whisper

Something Inventive 18: A festival of logos

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Ben shares the experience of his first podcast interview and joined by Al they talk about logos and how people remember them plus they dive into the new Apple Safari feature ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’.

The sponsor for this episode is the Ticked Off Marketing Checklist. It empowers you with marketing resources, advice and guidelines in a simple, step by step process – And it’s free.

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Video case studies – the social proof is in the pudding

Do you look at reviews before you buy a product? Have you ever got into a long line outside a club or restaurant because you thought it must be good? This is social proof at play –  and you can use it to your advantage.

There’ll be many reasons your prospects want to buy from you – good product, service or price. But ultimately what convinces them to make the final decision is the reassurance that you are reliable and trustworthy. And there is no better reassurance than a peer-to-peer recommendation.

Case studies can demonstrate more effectively than anything else how your product or service can help prospects achieve their goals. Having someone impartial tell their story about your business and how it has helped them, will have so much more influence on a prospect’s decision to buy, than your words alone ever could.

Social Proof is the reason why funny cat videos go viral, why we check out reviews of products before we buy something online, and why we ‘like’ on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ on Twitter and ‘pin’ on Pinterest. Social proof is the reason for the ‘first follower’ – the reason why, once one person does something or follows something, others will follow suit because it feels like a safe choice. We trust other individuals like us and are influenced by them, and we will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing.

‘User’ social proof is just one of many different types of social proof (including Expert, Celebrity, User, Wisdom of the Crowd and Wisdom of friends, all of which rely on others to influence us to take action). User social proof is particularly beneficial for your business because it is offering positive feedback from actual users of your products.

BUT there is an even more convincing type of social proof. This is where your ‘user’ is telling his story using video. Through the medium of film, your customer is actually engaging directly with the viewer, bringing their story to life with real emotion and enthusiasm, and making their experience so much more real. This has the effect of building trust in your business and authenticity in your brand because video adds gravitas and authenticity to the story being told. 

And the demand for video is increasing. Research has shown that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers? and 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI?

Social proof is a very powerful psychological motivator that businesses can utilise in order to influence potentials. But the business that uses video to capture its customers experience, where they can demonstrate their authenticity and leave viewers in no doubt as to the quality of the product or service they are endorsing, is a very savvy one indeed.

This case study video shows Communion Architects revealing how Rather Inventive has helped them. 

With video case studies, you don’t need to blow your own horn, your happy customers will do it for you, on film. How’s that for an endorsement!

Image Credit: Karunakar Rayker, Life On The Wire

Something Inventive 17: Al In His LEM

Donal McPartland joins Ben and Al to talk about why studied an MBA, diversifying his business and editing our podcast. We also discuss how we make our podcast at great length.

Finally, Al is now settled into his garden office or Lunar Excursion Module as he describes it and is almost ready to ditch his power and internet umbilical.

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 on 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 Be Sociable

Easy-to-follow social media tips and strategy to get noticed by the right people for the right reasons. Available for iPhone, iPad and Mac for £9.99. Or get it free by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of this web page.

Show notes

Al's cabin exterior

Al’s new cabin AKA ‘The LEM’

Al's cabin interior

Interior of Al’s cabin

Al's cabin interior with purple light strip

Prepare for launch!

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’

Promote your service for the price of a tweet

If you’d like the opportunity to have an advert for your product or service read out on our podcast, for FREE! Simply tweet what you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes. Here’s an example:

‘Sick of writing boring blog posts? Try Wordbirdy.com #podvert @RatherInventive’

First come, first served. So get your tweets in early.


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Photo: Al’s office, by Al Osmond

Being human – the vital factor in marketing

Every interaction you have with potential or existing clients is an opportunity to market your business. So, do you think they would want to deal with a cold bloodsucker or a real human being?

In a world where we are all besieged with advertisements and sales pitches, marketing your business is no longer about getting as many eyes as possible on your ads, it is about using your qualification as a human being to speak directly to clients, to build relationships, and give them the means to identify with you and your business.

Trying to suck the money out of clients with out-of-date marketing concepts that appeal to no one in particular is a loser’s game. But showing your human side by building relationships, whether as an individual or as the representative of a business, will get people on your side.

When it comes to fulfilling business or personal needs, consumers have a world of choice.  And too much choice become baffling. The only thing they have to rely on is their contacts, and they’re going to trust the ones who take the time and energy to help them make the right decision. Building authentic relationships with people is what fosters trust in you and loyalty to your brand. It is trust that drives people to purchase from you.

Doing it the right way ultimately comes down to showing your human side, and appealing to theirs. Talking directly to people about their needs, writing blog posts that speak to people and gets to the heart of their problem, creating ad and email campaigns that clients can relate to – this is all relationship building.

To err is human

Of course, being human, you WILL make mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of life. The important thing is to demonstrate that you can rectify those mistakes because in doing so you will not only demonstrate your conscientious-ness, but also your ability to deal with problems effectively.

To deny problems exist by sweeping them under the carpet or respond ineffectually, shows clients that you have the problem-solving abilities and emotional intelligence of a frog – this is not conducive to good business relationships.

Your customers will know when you’re being up front or when you’re stretching the truth. Give them a hint that you’re not being honest and you’ll lose them. Instead, admit to your mistake, explaining how you’ll handle it and what steps are being taken to prevent the same from occurring in the future, and they’ll appreciate and admire you more for it.

Expecting faultlessness from yourself or your employees is not realistic. There is a fine line between striving for excellence and unhelpful perfectionism, which does nothing but lead to an unhealthy workplace. It can impact on the mental and physical health of you and your employees, which filters out to the clients. A healthy level of quality control, as opposed to control freakery, creates beneficial relationships between employees and clients. In fact, research shows that the more human and connected a workplace feels, the healthier and more productive people are.

Show you care

For some reason being ‘professional’ seems to be synonymous with a lack of emotion. But pretending we are not human does not make us better at business, and sterile interactions are not the way to come across as a human being. You can be professional AND reveal your true personality, the human in you, even within a larger business, as long as you’re adhering to its core brand identity.

These days, being busy and stressed is often worn as a badge of honour. And for some people, to be seen as the type of person who considers work to be the centre of their universe is the ideal. It is almost as though their endeavours at work have to displace their human relationships or be cold and detached from the realities of being human, in order to be good at their job – this isn’t true – Being ourselves and bringing all of the aspects of our lives to complement our work is what makes us truly human, and come across as such. So, feel free to go surfing at the weekend and tell your newest client all about it.

No matter what business you’re in, the human element is vital. To deny your humanity by failing to build healthy working relationships, or being cold and detached with no warmth and personality coming across in your interactions, creates an unfavourable impression and suggests that there is something about your business that is not quite as it should be. In which case, you may as well have fangs, and blood dripping down your chin, because customers will run a mile.

Image sourced from http://sexyaidanturner.tumblr.com/

Interview: Louise Jenner – The Dream Job Coach

Ben interviews the lovely Louise Jenner. She’s enthusiastic about using online marketing tools and has lots of great advice to help develop a business that doesn’t run you. She says “if you’re not in your dream job, you’re in someone else’s”… so true.

Find Louise on Twitter @LouiseJenner1 or visit louisejenner.com/ebook/ and signup for her free book “Your Dream Job. How to find it and get hired to do it!”

Photo Credit: Louise Jenner

Focus your marketing to hit your target

In a business world littered with marketing advice, it may get a little confusing to know what to do to increase your company’s visibility. But one thing you shouldn’t do is lots of different things with no purpose or aim – this is the fastest route to a wasted budget. It may sound like a good idea to spend hours on building your social media following by tweeting every 5 minutes, but this is probably not the most appropriate route for your business.

Unfocused Social media, SEO or Pay Per Click advertising may be effective for some, but for many businesses, this scattergun approach fails to have an impact and leads to a lot of wasted time that could have been better spent elsewhere.

When it comes to the marketing there simply isn’t a one size fits all methodology. The best way to understand that best strategy for your business is to ask yourself one question – Who is my customer? Keep that customer in mind when creating your marketing strategy.

Plan consistent strategies

Put a strategy in place with your customers in mind. Think ahead, plan what you need to do, and keep doing it. Marketing works best when it’s consistent – you cannot just send one email and expect great results – whatever you do needs to build up and gain momentum. Measure the results.

  • Try Email marketing – this often produces a much higher return on investment than social media, so put your time into creating an effective email marketing campaign where you can speak directly to followers. Grow your email list and write compelling and engaging emails, using words that appeal to your target market, that you send directly to the customer on a regular basis.
  • Facebook allows you to get very specific in who you are targeting. Want to aim at women aged 25-40 in London who recently made a high-ticket purchase? Yes, you can target them. Or men in their 40s who love guitars and Apple products? Yes, them too. Facebook use data from individual’s Facebook activities to find out what their interests are, and you can use this to your advantage to reach a very narrow demographic of buyers.

Nurture your target market

  • As Simon Sinek says, ‘Start with why’. Tell your customers why you are running this business and let them know why they are important to your success.
  • Give your customers reason to trust you and never let them down.
  • Analyse your current customers. Why do they buy from you? Use this information to focus your marketing.
  • Find out where the leaks are in your marketing funnel. Where do people drop out and lose interest in what you are offering?

The more you can target and focus your campaigns, the more successful you will be in winning customers. This is the only way you will cut out the marketing fat and increase the visibility of your business to the people that matter – those who are going to buy your product or service – and ultimately, improve your bottom line.

Image credit: Petras Gagilas. Target.

Something Inventive 16: It’s never finished

Ben and Al discuss when a website is ready to go live and some great tools and articles to improve your marketing and search optimisation.

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 Be Sociable

Easy-to-follow social media tips and strategy to get noticed by the right people for the right reasons. Available for iPhone, iPad and Mac for £9.99. Or get it free by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of this web page.

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’

Promote your service for the price of a tweet

If you’d like the opportunity to have an advert for your product or service read out on our podcast, for FREE! Simply tweet what you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes. Here’s an example:

‘Sick of writing boring blog posts? Try Wordbirdy.com #podvert @RatherInventive’

First come, first served. So get your tweets in early.


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Photo: Loozrboy, High five

Give it away for free – 3 ways it can help your business 

You walk into a supermarket and you’re approached by a very friendly shop assistant who is offering a free sample of cake. You feel a little bit excited. Everyone likes free stuff. So, how do you feel about this supermarket? A tiny bit more positive perhaps – more inclined to buy the product?

It seems to be everywhere now – businesses offering stuff for free. But why?

Generates traffic

One of the primary benefits of offering something for free is that it generates traffic. The free product introduces the business and hooks likely buyers, with the result that the expense of handing out the free samples will be more than counterbalanced by the resulting sales. The big US companies such as Kraft, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever think nothing of spending a couple of hundred dollars each day to set up a free sample stand inside a supermarket. But these costs are tiny compared to the good will that is being cultivated in the customers who are getting these free samples.

Creates grateful customers

When it comes to reaching consumers, free samples are often much more powerful, and much cheaper than traditional advertising. If enough people try the product then some of them will decide to buy simply because they’ve gotten a freebie and, consciously or not, somehow feel obligated to pay the company back. Researchers have discovered that shoppers who’ve received freebies in the supermarket are more likely to buy the products given away, and to even become loyal customers.

Positive brand recognition

By giving something for free, you’re investing in positive brand recognition. People love to get something for free with no strings attached even if the product is worth little. In fact, the word ‘free’ makes the product and the company or brand more appealing.

It has a positive impact on how they regard your brand and it makes people more willing to give something in return. For example, businesses will give away free eBooks or white papers in return for contact information. People are more likely to respond to a favour with another favour. Rather Inventive offer freebies in the form of their book, Be Sociable, in the hope that it will tell people a little bit about the business, and garner a positive attitude towards it.

If you’re a small business owner then the word ‘free’ can be a little scary. You’re in business to make money after all. But by now you can see that there are various benefits that free samples and giveaways provide. Sometimes the benefits are not seen immediately but are contributing to the positive perception of your business, but at other times the benefits may be more immediate.

So, how can you harness the value of ‘free’ to make your business more successful?

Photo credit: Myrtle Beach TheDigitel  – FREE Samples

Something Inventive 15: Don’t put all your eggs in one bucket

Ben asks if we rely on computers or software too much and Al answers with a firm yes. We bring up some topical examples where systems have failed and how people deal with the outcome, or don’t as the case most often is. And we wonder if now, is the time for QR codes to shine?

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 Be Sociable

Easy-to-follow social media tips and strategy to get noticed by the right people for the right reasons. Available for iPhone, iPad and Mac for £9.99. Or get it free by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of this web page.

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’

Promote your service for the price of a tweet

If you’d like the opportunity to have an advert for your product or service read out on our podcast, for FREE! Simply tweet what you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes. Here’s an example:

‘Sick of writing boring blog posts? Try Wordbirdy.com #podvert @RatherInventive’

First come, first served. So get your tweets in early.


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Photo: Christopher – 22 chicks on the way…