Entries by Darren Stevens


The top 10 most common mistakes businesses make with Social Media

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, businesses have a tremendous opportunity to connect with their audience, build brand awareness, and drive growth. However, navigating the intricacies of social media marketing can be challenging, leading to common mistakes that hinder success. In this blog post, we explore the emotional rollercoaster of the top 10 most common mistakes businesses make with social media. So get ready to learn from these pitfalls, ensuring your social media journey is the best that it can be.

Neglecting a Clear Strategy:
Without a well-defined social media strategy, businesses can find themselves lost in the vast sea of platforms and content possibilities. Don’t fall into the trap of aimlessly posting without purpose and create a comprehensive strategy that aligns with your business goals, target audience, and brand identity.

Failing to Understand the Target Audience:
Every successful social media campaign begins with a deep understanding of the target audience. Only by having a clear picture of who is target customer can you create content that resonates with your audience on a profound level. Learn how to conduct thorough audience research, identify their needs and desires, and tailor your content to create an emotional bond that fosters loyalty and engagement. Think about what will interest your target market.

Inconsistent Brand Voice:
Inconsistency in your brand voice can lead to confusion and disengagement. Avoid mixed messaging and discover the power of a consistent and authentic brand voice. Ensure your brand’s personality shines through in every social media interaction, fostering trust and building a strong emotional connection with your audience.

Lack of Engaging Content:
Nothing dampens the spirit of social media like boring, uninspiring content. Create engaging content that captivates and sparks conversation. Fully utilise the power of storytelling, visual appeal, and interactive elements to keep your audience coming back for more.

Ignoring Social Listening:
Social listening is the key to understanding your audience’s sentiments, preferences, and pain points. Don’t miss opportunities for meaningful engagement and unlock the power of social listening to gather insights, address customer concerns, and tailor your content strategy to meet their evolving needs.

Overlooking Community Management:
Neglecting community management can result in a sense of isolation and detachment from your audience. The importance of active engagement cannot be overstated, responding to comments and messages, and fostering a sense of community around your brand. Explore the emotional rewards of building genuine relationships and the impact it has on your business’s reputation and customer loyalty.

Overpromotion and Salesy Tactics:
Constant self-promotion and aggressive sales tactics can alienate your audience and evoke feelings of annoyance and frustration. Discover the art of balanced promotion, where value-driven content takes centre stage and sales messages are seamlessly integrated. Learn how to build trust and credibility through authenticity and providing meaningful solutions to your audience’s pain points.

Neglecting Analytics and Data:
Making decisions without analyzing data can leave you lost and directionless. Uncover the power of analytics and data-driven insights – to see what really works and engages with your audience. Leverage social media analytics to track performance, measure ROI, and optimize your strategies for maximum impact.

Inconsistent Posting Schedule:
Inconsistency in posting can lead to a sense of disconnection and lead to missed engagement opportunities. Avoid sporadic posting and uncover the benefits of a consistent and well-planned content schedule. Regular posting keeps your audience engaged and eager for your next update.

Lack of Adaptability:
Social media is a dynamic and ever-changing landscape, and businesses must be adaptable to stay ahead. What worked yesterday may not work today.

Ask yourself – how many of these ten mistakes are you guilty of? If your business could do with some help with your Social Media Marketing then email Darren Stevens – darren.stevens@prestburymarketing.co.uk for an initial, no obligation discussion.

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Clean Air Cheltenham seeking a volunteer to be their Publicity Co-ordinator

We are helping Clean Air Cheltenham spread the word about a volunteer position to become their Publicity Co-ordinator. The position would obviously be ideal for anybody who can share the organisation’s passion for the subject. The opportunity would enable somebody to gain practical experience in this field and demonstrate a track record of achievement. More […]

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Thinking of starting a business? Here are some of the things that you need to do.

At this time of year and after this year of all years, now is the time when many are reviewing what they currently doing and considering taking the plunge and starting their own business. This is not a decision to take lightly though, so we thought we would shares some tips on what you need to do.

Things to do before you make the decision

Ask yourself why you want to do this? Phrases like being your own boss are often quoted and we understand that motivation. Many start up businesses quickly find though that their customers start to feel like “bosses” because of their expectations and demands. Others decide to go it alone to do what they love. That is fine but ask yourself is this the only way you can achieve this? It is not that we are against starting up businesses (after all we did that ourselves nearly 11 years ago), but we do find that most start up businesses underestimate how much hard work it will be.

Work out how much you want/need to earn. Then estimate what your fixed and variable costs will be and you will soon have an idea of how much you will need to turnover to realise your aspirations. Break this down into months and how many sales you need to do (or if you are offering services the number of hours you need to work) and remember the need to consider the fact that not all enquiries or expressions of interest will turn into sales. You have some of the elements of a business plan now and something to gauge your progress against.

Try and assess the level of demand for what you intend to offer. Ask potential customers would they be interested in what you intend to offer, what price they would expect to pay and where if they were looking for it, would they look. Wrong assumptions at this stage can be crucial. For example if you plan to sell an item for £25 and people expect to pay £18, you need to justify that premium and anticipate that some people, even those that want what you are selling may be put off. Also look out for competitors. If they are there – ask yourself how you will compare and standout? If they are not there, then just maybe that indicates there are not enough people looking for what you intend to offer/do in that area.

After the decision to go-ahead.

This is where the hard work really starts. This is not an exhaustive list but some of the key things you need to do.

Create a “to do list” and start to plot these in some sort of calendar or plan. This will help you put things into the right order, determine your priorities and highlight interdependencies. It also will help you drive your activity and help maintain momentum – “what I need to get done this week”. Beware the temptation to keep delaying things to get “all your ducks in a row”. Try and categorise things, maybe into “must haves” and “nice to haves”.

Finalise what you are going to offer (your products or services) and how and where you are going to offer this. In part this is about where you intend to operate but it is equally about your routes to market.

Settle on a business name. Remember to check Companies House to see if somebody is already using it and for similar reason google the name you are considering. Check the Government website for trademarks (remember that even if there is a clash if they operate in a different field or class this may not a be a show stopper) and that there is a domain name that matches or is very close to your name. We use 123 reg but there are other providers. If you are planning to operate internationally check on how your name translates and what its meaning is in different languages.

Create a logo for your name. This will be the visual representation of your name and will feature on everything you produce and you will also need it for your website, business cards, social media etc. You can try and do this yourself, but we usually find using the services of a professional designer is better in the long run.

Remember the practicalities. If you are going to be limited company register the business with Companies House. Set up a business bank account, take on an accountant and consider what premises, equipment or software you need from day one. Think about what insurances you need, what laws and regulations you must comply with and whether you will register your trademark at the outset. The latter of these is usually advisable if you have aspirations to grow your business. Think about what services and suppliers you need or in the short term what skills gaps you have if you are going to “insource” elements e.g. bookkeeping. Organisations like the Growth Hub which supports Gloucestershire businesses can be a great help. If you are outside Gloucestershire you will probably have your own equivalent.

Consider whether (or when) you will have a website. Determine how you are going to get it produced e.g. do it yourself or via a web company (we can help you find one). Create a brief of what the site will contain and make sure to look at lots of competitors. A common preference is for a light or uncluttered site but remember you are designing it for Google as much as you are the end user and a site with too few pages or words can struggle to rank. Remember you will need copy and photographs for your site (very often a stumbling block) and that you will need to pay for a domain name and to host your website. Make sure you set up your Google My Business profile and when your site is live make sure it has Google Analytics installed.

Decide what social media platforms you are going to use and set up your profiles. Remember to think what social media platforms your potential customers use and look at what your competitors are using. If you do not know how to do this organisations such as ourselves can do this for you. We also offer training and advice on how to make the best use of social media and also offer an outsourced service if required. You can find information on our social media services here.

Decide what if any local business groups you might want to join. We are members of the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce and Circle 2 Success (we are happy to share why we have chosen these two if you want to get in touch) but we have been members of the Institute of Directors and Gloucestershire Chamber of Commerce in the past and many small businesses choose to join the Federation of Small Businesses.

Decide on how you are going to promote your business. We come across far too many businesses who have inadvertently become the best kept secret. A great first step is to identify your target customers and make a list of the different ways that you can reach them. Some marketing will jump straight to generating a sale, but more often than not you will find you will need to take them through a process. For most businesses the steps in this will be making them aware of you and what you do, creating a positive impression and then creating enough desire for what you offer for them to get in touch. It is a good idea at the outset to set a budget for how much you are going to spend on marketing in the first year. This provides a great framework for decision making and will greatly minimise the chances of costs running away. Remember the importance of repetition and reinforcement to guide your potential customers through your process. Also don’t forget to make the most of free sources e.g. social media, recommendations and referrals.

We hope that this list isn’t too daunting and that you will find it useful. Running your own business is very hard work, but it is also very rewarding. For us for example we get a great buzz out of the progress we see our clients making with our help. If you do think that you would benefit from some professional help with your marketing please get in touch.

The 10 things to do, to get your business in the best possible shape for recovery from Coronavirus

Many businesses are quieter than they would ordinarily be at the moment. Some are laying off staff, others are furloughing employees. But in our view this is a golden opportunity for many to do what they ordinarily might struggle to – work on the business, rather than in the business (to be clear though you cannot do this if you have been furloughed). We have put together this check list of 10 things to do, to put your business in the best possible shape for recovery from Coronavirus. Not all of these will be applicable to all businesses and they are not in any particular order but we hope that there will be plenty that will apply to you.

1. Survey your customers.

When did you last survey your customers, to gauge their level of satisfaction, discover what about your products or services they would like to change and anything that you can do to improve? Such a survey can also be a great way to capture testimonials for use in marketing or on your website. Our survey tool of choice is the Gloucestershire survey company SmartSurvey. The chances are are that you will get a better response to your survey now than in more normal circumstances (not least because of less cluttered email boxes and some people having more time), but if you are concerned about take up, then why not pledge a charitable donation for each survey completed?

2. Claim your Google My Business listing.

Hopefully most reading this will have already done this, but if in doubt do a google search for your own business and see if the listing top right has an option to “claim this business”. These listings are becoming increasingly important for all businesses, but most particularly those that attract business from the local area. For a vaguely light hearted look at the consequences of not claiming your Google My Business listing read our blog from last year. Once you have claimed your Google listing, then do the same with Bing.

3. Check how you rank against your competitors on Google My Business.

Check out Google’s own tips on improving your ranking here but in our experience we have also found it to be highly beneficial to have more reviews and a higher score. Ideally you want to be in the top three of the most relevant category for your business in local searches.

4. Consider registering your Trademark

If your brand is important to you (and who isn’t it for) then consider protecting your name by registering it as a trademark. There are other defences if people start using a name that is a bit too close for comfort, but prior registration of your trademark is likely to be one of the most effective. You may want to take legal advice on this. Our trademark was registered for us by our Solcitor clients Hughes Paddison.

5. Review your websites Google Analytics

We are going to assume for now that you will have Google Analytics on your website – in our experience most do. Equally though in our experience, far too many organisations then don’t look at these figures to benefit from the invaluable insight they offer. Where are your visitors coming from, what pages are most popular, what goals are being triggered and what traffic sources led to these – there are just some of the insights that you will glean.

6. Carry out a brand/proposition review

In this day and age, your organisation can be found in lots of different places – your own website, generally online, social media, business directories and of course your own literature. But when did you last review how consistent these are and whether they present you in the best possible light? How likely is that they way you describe yourself will resonate with potential customers. We can help with this, by giving an impartial viewpoint and an exercise we can carry out with you, can help create what we like to call a “hierarchy of messages”, that will make it much more likely that you use the most important points first going forward.

7. Review your GDPR policy

It might seem longer ago, but GDPR was introduced nearly two years ago in the UK. Most organisations at the time wrote GDPR policies to help ensure their compliance with the information requirements at the time. But how many of those organisations have reviewed their policy since – despite the fact that the data they hold and what they use it for may well have changed. Also ask yourself when your company last did any GDPR training. One of the activities you can ask furloughed employees to do is take part in training.

8. Keep prospects warm

This is particularly relevant to those businesses that are fully closed currently. Ask yourself how are you maintaining contact with people that were in your pipeline at the time you mothballed your business? Also what about new enquiries you have received whilst you are closed. Perhaps you can give those people priority when your business starts to get going again. As a minimum are you getting people to opt in to future marketing.

9. Ensure that you don’t go silent on social media

These are challenging times and it would not be appropriate to simply post the same content that you would ordinarily. You need be sensitive to the general mood, but equally now is not a time to go silent on social media. It can play a vital role in re-enforcing your businesses presence (reminding people you are there). Think about how you can use your social media to help others whether that be sharing freely expertise like we are doing here or simply being supporting of other organisations in your local area. Incidentally remember to check what percentage of your website traffic comes from social media, this will differ for each business, but as a rough rule of thumb we would say you should be getting at least 5% of your website traffic from social media.

10. Form a recovery plan

It is difficult for us all to envisage what recovery will look like, when it will happen, how fast will it be? But this is one thing you don’t want to make up as you go along. Think – what will you do first, how much will you spend and where will you spend it. What steps do you need to take to get your business fully up and running and how do you make sure that business does not fall through your grasp in the process. The businesses that come out of this the best, will be those that have spent the time creating a recovery plan that ensures they maximise the benefits of the recovery when it comes.

We hope that you have found this part one of our list of 10 things you should do to put your business in the best possible position for recovery, useful. If we can help with any of the elements of these ten steps, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Marketing in uncertain times

We are most definitely living and working in a period of unprecedented change, where almost everything that we have accepted to be normal is changed for the forseeable future, “thanks” to Coronavirus. Here at Prestbury Marketing we come into daily “virtual” contact with many businesses and it has been both heartening and quite remarkable the […]

How do you know your website is working?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked. To be clear this is not usually in the context of whether or not the site is down, but more a matter of, is it being found as well as it should be and is it making the most of the visitors it does get. We would argue though that the number of people asking this question are very tip of a much bigger iceberg/ number who are “blissfully ignorant” of how their website is performing.

In this digital age that we now live in, there is really no excuse for not knowing how well your website is performing – although that being said one of the most common failings in this area are down to human beings. So what are our top 10 ways of checking that your website is working.

1. Ask your enquirers/potential customers.
A surprisingly number of businesses don’t ask this question or if they do, they don’t log and track the answer to it. Without this information you are falling at the first hurdle of tracking where your new business comes from. Our preference would be that you log what people say and that if the answer is “found your website”, then ask how they found your website.

2. Track how these enquiries progress
Knowing what the conversion rate of enquiries is from different sources and where applicable the average order value is key. The holy grail where you are spending money on driving traffic to your website is to know the £’s worth of order per £1 of marketing spend. This way you can compare different forms of marketing which might have very different costs.

3. Re-inforce your manual tracking through Google analytics.
It is possible to set up goals in Google Analytics for telephone calls, emails and form submissions. What this then means is that you can determine how many of these you have had and what drove them. Have you ever wondered for example whether visitors to your website are from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin convert better. Bear in mind though that only calls via mobiles will be tracked (or Skype) but that also a call is tracked by counting the number of times the message – call 01242 xxxxxx is triggered and not all these will go onto call.

4. Determine the extent of the correlation between website traffic and sales.
It is usually a case of how much of a correlation there is between movements in website traffic and sales volumes rather than a case of whether one exists. Showing sales volumes over website traffic on a graph over the same period will show this.

5. Look at Google Analytics to see what it tells you
How is website traffic performing compared with the same period last year? Is your traffic up or down and where is it coming from and how does it differ. What is the bounce rate for your site (where people arrive on one page and leave straight away)?

6. Do you know how many people are looking at your business before they make contact or visit your website?
This might sound impossible to some or it might sound like you need a crystal ball. Whereas the answer is in fact your Google My Business listing that appears top right when you search on Google for yourselves, and is the red blob on a map when people search for your type of business. Once you have claimed your business you have access to rich insights and a number of marketing tools i.e. posts, adding photo, responding to reviews or messages. Top tip – Increase the visibility of your Google My Business page and you will drive more traffic to your website or people to make contact with you.

7. Check the health of your website in the eyes of Google and Chrome?
If your website is not considered to be secure in the eyes of Chrome and Google your site ranking will suffer and you will be losing visitors. Also check whether Google thinks your site is fully mobile friendly.

8. Consider monitoring / viewing what your traffic is doing
Google Analytics has an element of live traffic that if you get sufficient volumes of web visitors will give some insight into the behaviour of your traffic. The behavioural view on analytics will also tell you where people arrived and where they went. Products such as Hotjar (other products are available) allow you to view live on screen how visitors act – great for example if you have a lot of people visiting a form but then abandon it.

9. Consider getting somebody to review your website from a user experience perspective
Whilst not statistically significant this can give valuable insight into how others view your site, particularly if they also look at some of your competitors sites. Or you could conduct a survey of your website visitors to gain their views.

10. Get an external view from a Marketing Consultant
A fresh pair of eyes can give a more balanced perspective – but then we would say that wouldn’t we? Why not get in touch to get us to have a look at your site for you.

Some of our favourite Marketing tools that can make your life easier

Marketing in today’s multi-channel, digital world can sometimes feel a bit a confusing with so many options and an almost endless “to do list”. To make your life just that bit easier we have listed some of our favourite tools. Listed below in no particular order we hope you find the list to be useful.

1. Google My Business.
A great “window” on the number of people that are potentially looking at your business before they make contact with you. Also a good promotional platform to utilise by ensuring your business is the most ranked and highest ranked in your area and also the free post updates functionality.

2. SmartSurvey.
Gloucestershire based we find this survey tool easier and better to use than its larger rival SurveyMonkey. If you are not already using surveys then consider using them. They are great for PR, customer insight, gauging customer satisfaction and also recruiting testimonials to use in other forms of Marketing.

We use this tool all the time for creating great images to use in social media. It is easy to use, but we would still usually save this for those most important posts that you want to look really good.

4. Website Grader.
A free tool from Hubspot that lets you effectively look under “the bonnet” of your website to find things that you may want to fix. Yes the tool is of course biased towards aspects that Hubspot can help you with, but then it looks at every website in the same way, so it can be a good tool to use to see how your website compares with competitors.

5. Bitly.
A great tool to shorten links for inclusion in social media. Only use it where you need to though as people may be less likely to click on a link where they cannot see where it leads them.

6. PicResize.
A handy free online tool that allows you to resize photos to different sizes or crop them.

7. Pexels.
A handy online source of free imagery for use on social media and elsewhere. For paid for images our favourite source is Shutterstock.

8. Cookiebot.
A great free web tool that will let you know what web links you have embedded in your website. Useful for example for ensuring your Privacy Policy is accurate or for checking whether or not you have Google Analytics on your website.

9. Google News Alerts.
A great free tool from Google that lets you keep abreast of breaking news in your industry. Also great for sourcing content to use in social media.

10. Google Analytics.
We saved the best till last. Your website is undoubtedly one of your most valuable marketing assets and it is vital that you should be using this to track how your website is performing, where your traffic is coming from and what sources of traffic are triggering marketing goals.

We could have listed many more, but we hope that this handy list of some of our favourites will come in handy.

What can we learn from the £14 KitKat?

KitKat has been grabbing the national press headlines this week with the announcement that it will be selling bespoke hand made £14 KitKats from its website and selected John Lewis stores in the run up to Christmas. Chocolate fans will be able to choose from 1,500 flavour combinations. They will be asked to choose their […]


And they are under Starter’s orders …..

Whether or not you are into Horse Racing there is an undeniable buzz in the air in Prestbury, Cheltenham and Gloucestershire as The Festival approaches. The statistics surrounding the Cheltenham Festival are quite staggering, here are just a few:

The economic benefit to the county is estimated at around £100 million
In 2016 236,472 pints of Guinness were consumed on the course
£2.3 million is taken out of cash machines in the town
Approximately 10,000 Irish racing fans come to the Festival
134,600 travel through the town’s train station
20,000 bottle of champagne are served at the racecourse
1 ton of beef is eaten on the course
The shuttle buses from the town centre to the course make 80,000 journeys
A typical jockey will consume no more than 1,500 calories in a day

The race meeting is also a focal point for Marketing of all kinds. For over a week now the betting companies have been promoting their Festival offers and there will be all kinds of stunts from them during the week to get their brand in front of the racegoers. The picture that accompanies this blog is of the giant Hollywood style Paddy Power sign put up on Cleeve Hill overlooking the course in 2010. Local pubs go to great lengths to promote their racing breakfasts. The local council offers free parking in its car parks to tempt shoppers into the town centre during the lull when the punters are at the racecourse and the Business Improvement District runs a competition for the best racing themed window.

Aside from the direct economic impact, what is the value to the town of being “put on the map” by this event? It is very difficult to estimate this, but a campaign to raise this level of name and brand awareness of Cheltenham would most certainly cost millions.

In the ten years of running Prestbury Marketing we cannot recall receiving an enquiry from a business or business person whilst they were visiting Prestbury for the racing, but maybe this year will be the year? If you or your business need help with your marketing or PR then feel free to get in touch.