The Appletree Blog has moved!

If you’re looking for our latest blog – we’ve moved! We have finally launched our brand new website and our blog is now integrated into that site. We’re still posting two to three times a week and bringing you lots of useful advice and ideas.

Just go to www.Appletreeuk.com/Blog and you’ll find our most recent blogs – and any others you’ve missed, since we moved over there at the beginning of February.

See you there!

The case in the defence of Twitter

A client recently remarked “let me know when you get a sale from Twitter”.  In other words, “I bet I’ll never see the day we get a sale as a result of Twitter!”

A statement said many a time I would wager.  My answer, said smiling: “No, you probably won’t if you just use Twitter on its own, but use it as part of an integrated marketing plan and yes, you probably WILL see sales as a result of it.”

A great deal of our time as a marketing consultancy is spent working with clients on their marketing planning, and crucially the implementation of those plans.  We ensure all marketing activity is tied together with a common message.  We write blogs, newsletters, press articles, tweets, website copy – all focused on key marketing messages unique to our clients.  It’s the combination of all these activities, carried out regularly, timely but regularly, which is enabling our clients to become seen as experts in each of their fields.

Crucially, the information they are imparting on their target audience is being seen in a variety of areas.  Websites are great as long as people are getting to them, LinkedIn is great for networking and discussions, and Google+ is growing and will be great.

What Twitter does is allow you to ‘speak’ to a huge number of people, at no cost, and with little time.  Just make sure you apply a bit of thought to ensure your message is ‘on plan’ and you create a call to action (eg website links) and you have an effective marketing tool.

In a recent statistic I read (I know stats are what you want them to be but…) ‘80% of business decision makers now prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.’  By using the platforms social media provides, your company information can be seen this way.  Social media writing can easily be incorporated with Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, driving valuable inbound links for SEO.

I feel privileged to be involved in providing intelligent content marketing to clients who recognise what marketing actually should be, which consistent, ongoing, valuable information to customers is.  With the right marketing planning and delivery, customers will ultimately reward with their business and loyalty.

Yes, marketing is still what it always was – creating messages, identifying prospective customers and trying to influence their behaviour.  These days, it’s just being delivered in a different, I would say smarter way, and across different platforms, even Twitter.

Contact Appletree  (debbie@appletreeuk.com) and let us know if you have or haven’t seen sales from your social media plan – and yes, that does include Twitter!

A five step plan for social media

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingMy thanks go to Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist, for the inspiration for this blog. I heard Graham speak at a Ladies and Gentlemen That Lunch networking meeting earlier this year, when he shared with us his five step plan for social media, which looks something like this.

  1. Plan – have a strategy, decide exactly what you want to achieve, set targets and goals. For instance, do you want to use social media to find new contacts, or build your reputation?  Are you using it primarily to keep abreast of industry news, or to share your advice with other people? How many contacts do you want to connect with?
  2. Blog – adding content should be your primary activity and the more the better. At the time of writing this blog, we’re posting on it twice a week. We’ll be going back up to three posts each week in the New Year. If you’re just starting out with a blog, aim to post once a week and build up from there.
  3. Integrate – connect your blog to every social media outlet important to your market, but especially Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each time we publish a post on this blog, a tweet goes out automatically; we keep tweeting that tweet until another blog is posted. Our blogs also go onto our Facebook page.
  4. Monitor – constantly be aware of your readership and what they are doing with your content. We use Tweet Deck to see who is talking about us on Twitter and who is retweeting us. Tools like Google Alerts will also tell you who is talking about you.
  5. Respond – reply to the engagement you receive and use that to help develop your future plans. Reply to direct messages through Twitter and get into conversations with your followers – it can lead to work and ideas for new products and services. Respond to comments on your blog, LinkedIn and Facebook for the same reasons.

Many people start using social media without really thinking about where they’re going with it. That’s a bit like starting out on a journey without actually knowing where you’re going. Without a destination to head to, you’ll just end up driving round and round in circles, wasting your time. Follow Graham’s five step plan and you’ll save yourself lots of time and effort, while making the most of this active marketing tool.

You can read more of Graham’s words of wisdom at www.GrahamJones.co.uk.

I can’t write a book – what would I write about?

Did you know that 95% of people who think about writing a book never get around to it? That’s a lot of unfulfilled dreams and ideas.

But did you know that writing a book is just about giving? This means that a book is about sharing your ideas and your advice; it’s about writing about what you know about.

I recently suggested to one of my clients that she should write a book. After she’d stopped laughing, she said, “What on earth would I write about and who would want to read it anyway?”

The client in question, Debbie, is a riding instructor who works with people and their own horses, helping them to develop better relationships. It’s not about teaching people to ride, but about helping her clients to train themselves and their horses to the next level of fitness and performance. It’s a bit like a sportsman having a coach who helps him with the next competition; or the business coach who helps her clients achieve greater success – whatever that might look like. A great deal of Debbie’s work is also based around the psychology of riding and how the way riders think affects the way they ride.

So to answer the first question – what do I write about? My suggestion to Debbie was that she writes about some of her clients and the training they’ve been through. She works with a huge range of people and horses, so I suggested a series of case studies to highlight different issues and the different – all successful – results they’ve achieved. Debbie actually enjoys writing, so that won’t be a problem; for people who don’t like writing, a series of case studies can easily be produced by interviewing people and transcribing the interviews.

And question two – who will want to read it? I asked Debbie how many happy clients she has, who would like to know more about training themselves and their horses. She has dozens and all of them would buy her book – especially if they’re signed! In addition, the number of horses in the UK is huge. (According to the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) survey of 2066 there were 1.35 million in the UK.) Take off of few for the people who own more than one horse; remove a few professional riders who have written their own books and you’re left with a vast number of ordinary people who love their horses, ride for fun and would love a book that can, practically, help them improve their riding and develop a better relationship with their horse – without spending a fortune on an expensive course or ‘horse whisperer’.

The good news is that having answered Debbie’s two concerns, she’s giving it a go and is going to write the book! We’re starting with a half day planning session at the end of September and once we’ve done that, I’ll write another blog to update you on progress. If you’re a horse rider who would like to read Debbie’s book, let me know! Once we have the outline, we’ll put details of the book onto her website at www.Gain-field.co.uk with details of how to order a pre-launch copy.

Is there a book in you? Do you know what you could write about and the ideas and advice that you could share? Even if you don’t have the answers to the questions, if you’d like to write a book, get in touch by leaving a comment and ask about our new Book Consultancy service.

Facebook – Is it really the modern day business necessity?

When you first started your business, print media was probably your main marketing concern. Not very long ago, it wasn’t entirely unusual for a business not to be online. To interact with your customers, the internet wasn’t your only option. But now, things have changed. Not only is the internet everywhere, we’re expected to always be connected. Social media is getting bigger, and wise businesses are using it to their advantage.

The average Facebook user spends 23 minutes each visit, and 70% of local businesses use Facebook for marketing. How can you communicate with your target market? Facebook is modern-day equivalent of the telephone book. It holds so much personal information that you can quite specifically get in touch with your market, right down to gender, location and age range. Facebook isn’t just a place for adverts, there are many uses for it – and it’s a brilliant way you can build a relationship with your consumers. You can use a Facebook page to promote and test new products, and you can use it to sell products or content directly using Facebook credits. Marketing is about selling yourself, a personality; not just a product. Facebook is one of the best ways to communicate that, as a business you can find yourself getting the same access to an individual as their friends or family.

There are many examples of people using Facebook third party for their businesses, and utilising the platform partnerships e.g. the business creating the advertisement or application, and Facebook selling the space or the ‘platform’ necessary to promote and effectively use it. For a lot of service providers, it’s another platform – just one with potential access to thousands of people. There are 600million users on Facebook as of January 2011. It’s illogical not to be a part of it. Facebook has been around for years, and immortalised in film. It’s not just a passing fad, the words “Find Us On Facebook!” are everywhere. You see it on a twitter page, on a website, on a blog, on email signatures and even print media and leaflets. It’s quite possibly the most effective and accessible call to action for this generation. Not being on Facebook is like saying your business doesn’t have a phone, but you can still get in touch via your pager.

The internet isn’t everything, and only focussing your marketing online would be a mistake. Good businesses have a presence in more than one forum. What about those people who don’t go online? The people who still don’t understand what the words ‘social media’ mean? If all of your customers are technophobes, then perhaps heavy investment into your Facebook page may not be the way to go. In that case, understandably, you’d focus your marketing elsewhere. But even in your print media, you’d want to make a reference to your online social media, because you never know who is going to see it.

Facebook isn’t a business necessity, but most definitely is a modern day necessity.

How can you use the Law of Attraction in your business?

Do you use the Law of Attraction in your business, to get the clients, staff and suppliers you want? If you ever find yourself using words like ‘coincidence’ or ‘serendipity’ or saying that good things just seem to happen, then you are probably already using the Law of Attraction without realising it.

Some years ago I was introduced to a book called Attracting Perfect Customers by Stacey Hall. It showed me how to find perfect clients – the ones you really want to work with – and I’ve been using the techniques in my business and with many of my clients, very successfully.

Recently I learnt how to take the Law of Attraction even further in business, when I heard Michael Losier speak. He’s from Canada and has written a book called The Law of Attraction. He said that the Law of Attraction works because the words we use determine the results we get. A collection of words, put together in a string, becomes a thought. A thought becomes a vibe – a feeling or mood – which can be either positive or negative. Vibes become results – either positive or negative. So if you look at the results you’re getting and you don’t like them (because they’re negative), the way to change them is by changing the vibes you give off, which you do by changing your thoughts, which you do by changing the words you use. Michael says there are three words we need to take out of our vocabulary, to help us create positive results. They are:

  • Don’t
  • Not
  • No

So instead of saying “I don’t want an overdraft,” or “I don’t want to work with a certain type of client,” we can think about what we do want. “I want a parking space right outside that shop,” or “I want to earn £X this month.”

According to Michael, there are just three steps to creating attraction and getting what you want. They are:

  1. Identify what you desire
  2. Give your desires attention
  3. Allow it to happen

The third step is the most important and is probably the hardest to do; yet the speed at which the Law of Attraction will create what you want is in direct proportion to how much you allow.

Make sense? If not, get hold of a copy of Michael’s book! He’s not in the UK much, but is running some workshops in London this weekend (9-11 September) and you can find out more at www.MichaelLosier.com. He’s a really entertaining speaker and you’ll learn loads about how to create whatever you want in your business!

Web-attractiveness isn’t necessarily good design

Alice

Reading through the LinkedIn Groups a question grabbed my attention. It was a lady who was obsessed with setting up a series of fancy designed monetized blogs. As well as wavering on which kind of blogging platform to use, she was very concerned about the design, as well as keen to start making money.

Unfortunately the thing about monetized blogs is that they take some time before they start to yield decent results. They need to be attractive to readers in order to build up a suitable following that would respond to the advertising, and they need to be visited regularly before there will be enough readers tempted to click on.

And web-attractiveness doesn’t mean a fancy template, it means good, varied, consistent and practical content. Plenty of websites have spent a fortune on the design, only to be sorely lacking in the information they contain, especially if it is out of date. Large corporates waste money thinking that by redesigning their website it will enhance its performance, but most visitors don’t notice, only caring about the information they need and want. OK, cleverly designed buttons that encourage a mouse-click may be successful, but what about the stuff they lead on to?

What makes a website or blog successful is good content, coupled with excellent navigation that guides the visitor in the right direction. Visitors should enjoy their experience, be easily gratified by finding what they are looking for, benefit from the information gleaned and be suitably impressed to bookmark, subscribe and regularly return for more.

When a visitor lands on your website or blog, they immediately want to establish this is the right kind of website they are looking for, without stopping to admire the fancy graphics and beautiful colours. A good design enables readers to immediately find what they want, and doesn’t hinder or distract them from their purpose. The overall result should be readable, legible, uncluttered and easy to use.

And the content should also encourage a desire to return, react to the call to actions and succumb to the sign up forms. Although an excellently written book may be read many times, it can’t compare to a blog that is regularly updated with new content, satisfying both its human readers as well as the search engine robots, who play such a necessary part in promoting your content throughout the web.