The Hive, Technology Enterprise Centre at Carrick on Shannon

Leitrim County Enterprise Fund has been busy working away on its all-new technology enterprise centre for months. The Hive, as it has been named, is just about ready to accept tenants from the local knowledge-based business community.

Joe Lowe, CEO of Leitrim County Enterprise Board (Update 2014 : Now Leitrim Local Enterprise Office), says “The Hive, a new concept in business centre for the region, will be open for business in early September 2013. Accommodation solutions range from a single desk with high speed fibre broadband access, to fully furnished and serviced office suites with fixed cost flexible leases and optional packages including phone systems, print solutions and secretarial support.”

“Please look out for our launch date in the local press and on social media and if interested parties have any questions on this exciting new development, please feel free to contact Colm Keane, Business Development Manager, on  071 9616275 or colm@the-hive.ie

Local businesses will be aware that The Hive will occupy the much redeveloped building (newly expanded) as the County Enterprise Board on the Dublin Road in Carrick on Shannon, directly across from the new Aldi store.

The Hive

Connectivity and convenience are the main focus of this new centre to serve the knowledge-based business community of the North West. Accommodation solutions ranging from a single desk, with high speed fibre broadband access, to fully furnished and serviced office suites with fixed cost flexible leases and optional packages including phone systems, print solutions and secretarial support are available.

There is an on site coffee dock and high tech meeting rooms and training suites, which make it the ideal location for your next training or conferencing event, with its high profile location on a national primary route (N4). The Hive is also an ideal location for off-site interviews or meetings with short and long-term flexible availability, in a high quality business focused environment.

Read the Enterprise Board’s Hive PDF

Visit The Hive’s website.

Selling is about Telling

Selling can be tough going. No question. In a world of ever shorter attention spans, it has never been more important to keep reminding potential customers, current customers and lost customers about your business. I love that old adage that “nobody gives a damn about your business but yourself”.

[By the way, did you notice I mentioned lost customers? Yes, just because you’ve lost some does not mean you can never get them back.]

Selling is about telling. Traditional methods, like putting a sales letter or postcard in the snail mail can be a great way of getting your name in front of people that matter. It goes against the grain of banging off an email, even more so a circular email that’s not targeted at any one person or business in particular. Plus, you’ll find that you put greater care into that postcard. And more personalisation.

In a world where Facebook posts and tweets have a very short lifespan – often just minutes – do try to get your message across via different means. Use a postcard to ask for a meeting. Get on the phone to ask for a meeting. Remember the Sales Process – it’s all about getting the meeting, so you can ask questions, as well as answer any that are put to you.

All the while, back this up through social media, videos, photographs and testimonials. Depending on whether, for example, you are in the B2B or B2C game, get on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, as appropriate. Prospects will check you out online – now you know that’s true.

One issue I commonly come across is what used to be called “production-orientation”, whereby a small business owner is more concerned with how beautiful his product is, or where he’s buying his raw materials, or how neat his office is, than he is with selling the finished item. Trust me, this is quite common. So as I’ve said – selling is about telling.

You’ve simply got to get out there and meet potential customers. Press the flesh. Share a coffee. As one guy said to me only the other day, “learn to like coffee with strangers”. Do whatever you’ve got to do to keep your business fresh in the minds of people that matter.

Social Media Training – Goals, Strategy, Actions

Too often, social media training consists of simply what actions one can take on Facebook or other platforms.

This is to miss the point and to overstate the importance of social media, as if it were the one and only issue facing a business. Social media training needs to include the all-important question of “Why ?”, not just “How ?”. This is about one’s goals, target markets and the strategies to be employed to build an audience and, ultimately, market products to the target markets identified.

Social media training should, therefore, be first and foremost about ‘what to do’ goals, strategy and, only then, ‘how to do’ actions.

The social media goals of a business might include :

  • to build a brand
  • to increase customer satisfaction and buy-in
  • to drive recommendations
  • to achieve PR
  • to generate leads
  • to develop new product / service ideas
  • to develop traffic to one’s main website
  • to make sales
  • etc.

The strategy to achieve these goals includes the “Seven Cs” :

  • Categorising audiences
  • Comprehending them
  • Conversing with them
  • Contributing to them
  • building a Community
  • introducing Calls to action
  • Converting

Only after working through these areas and the understanding of one’s target markets and on which social media platforms they ‘hang out’ should social media training get in to the nitty-gritty of how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube, etc.

Training can then discuss behaviour on social media platforms, like being interactive, inviting opinion, comment and sharing ideas. The importance of some humour and light-heartedness can be discussed, alongside posing questions, sharing video and photo content, etc.

Visitors to social media sites are looking for connection, information, entertainment and they seek authenticity from Pages. Social media training looks at how to behave, the question of etiquette and what fab content to provide to bring those viewers back, ultimately making of them an army of advocates.

Please do get in touch, if you feel your business could benefit from social media training that puts these promotional tools into their strategic context and helps you with real-world actions to achieve your digital and over-arching business goals.

Innovation & Creativity Seminars, Leitrim

On Tuesday next, in conjunction with Leitrim County Enterprise Board and its Innovation & Enterprise Programme, two free seminars take place in the Landmark Hotel.

From 11.00 to 13.00, the theme is “Sparking Innovation and Creativity”. This short seminar will introduce attendees to four innovative local businesses, in the areas of software development, tourism, brewing and fashion. Spanning quite different sectors, each speaker will tell their story of innovation.

Innovation can be a quite daunting concept for small and micro-enterprises. But it need not be so. Don’t forget : innovation is not always a case of designing a new product. It can span each of the seven Ps of marketing – product, yes, but also price, physical evidence, promotion, people, processes and place/distribution. Perhaps you can deliver your service in an innovative new way. Perhaps you can help customers achieve their goal through new processes; new ways of looking at their problem. Maybe you can offer a new pricing structure to help your potential customers make that buying decision. Could you reshape or redesign your premises so that it more accurately reflects the service or products you offer within ?

So come along to the Landmark, Carrick on Shannon and listen to the story of these inspiring local business owners. Book your place at this seminar via Leitrim County Enterprise Board.

This first session will be followed between 14.00 and 16.00 by a talk on “One Eye on the Environment; One Hand in the Pocket” – how to save money on water, waste and energy management, while being friendly to our shared environment. Creativity is not just in the production and marketing side of business, but can also be applied to business inputs and costs.

This session will look at how savings can be made, even by micro-enterprises. Book for this session via Leitrim CEB’s site and see if you can cut everyday costs in your business.

Next Tuesday’s seminars will then be further complimented by a session on social media one week later. But more on that anon.

Facebook Adverts – Anatomy of a Performance

People often ask me about their Facebook advert performance. It’s a little like asking how a retail shop should perform, but, of course, we know what they mean.

Facebook adverts
Facebook

What people generally mean when they pose this question is this. How many clicks should I expect to get for my Euro 50 / 100 / 500 investment – whatever their spend figure might be. We’ll get to whether or not that’s the right question to be asking in a minute. But for now, let’s just take it on board. A browse of the internet will find blogger experts generally stating that a ‘successful’ Facebook advert can hope to generate around 0.1% CTR (click-through-rate). That equates to 1 click for every 1,000 times the advert was displayed (so-called ‘impressions’). More commonly, I would suggest, that figure is lower – often towards 0.02 – 0.05%.

CTR depends on many factors, but what is nice about Facebook advertising is that it allows you to provide good information on who you are targetting with your ad. So it’s there you should begin. Inform FB about age, gender, geography, etc. By doing so, you’re increasing your chances of a more ‘successful’ campaign, as only ‘relevant’ people will even see the advert.

However, CTR is not an end in itself. Counting CTR is like counting the number of people who cross the threshold into your shop. Clearly, it’s good that they’re there, but it doesn’t mean they make a purchase. The real rate that matters is the number of enquiries and the number of conversions – actual real-world, paid-for sales !

Here’s an example of a recent, well-targetted Facebook Adverts campaign I’m aware of. The investment was modest, at Euro 50 over 14 days.

Impressions – 445,000

Clicks – 225

CTR – 0.05% (i.e. 5 clicks for every 10,000 times the advert was shown)

Verdict ? Pretty good on CTR. A decent number of folks went ahead and “visited the shop”, so to speak.

Enquiries – 8 (i.e. number of those 225 people who clicked through the advert that went on to pick up the phone, or send an email)

Sales – 0 (So, of the 225 people who walked into the shop, just 8 asked a question of the sales assistant. Of those, none made a purchase)

Verdict ? Not great.

So be sure to ask yourself the right question. Remember that FB is only the vehicle for placing your advert in front of the correct audience. Just because it’s online and more ‘hip’ than your traditional ad in the local paper, does not mean the question is any different. The metric that matters remains the same. How many sales did you make ?

[Clearly, this assumes you’re trying to sell something through your Facebook adverts]

Business Blogging – What’s the Point ?

Business blogging – should you get into it ? Yes, you should.

However, one important point to remember is that no one single marketing action will be a solution all by itself for the achievement of all your business goals.

When a client’s eyes glaze over as I launch into the merits of business blogging, I need to remind them that it is just one of many actions that can be taken to help towards the ultimate goal of more (profitable) business.

Business blogging

So, commitment to business blogging is no more than that – commitment to one more marketing action. Commitment to communicating with your clients at whatever rate you can manage. What nobody wants to see is businesses blogging all day every day at the expense of work that more directly makes the till tick over.

No.

If you are a micro-enterprise with few (if any) employees, then a reasonable target might be to write a new blogpost once per fortnight, or per month if that’s sound more achievable. Do try.

Be aware that a typical post might have an initial lifespan on social media of just a matter of hours. Having said that, its lifespan can be expanded by retweeting or re-sharing at later dates and linking separate but related blogposts to each other. Know that in a fast-moving sector, where lots of posts are being generated, yours will have a much shorter lifespan.

Use management tools like Hootsuite or dlvr.it to increase the reach of posts, by having them repeated out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (free version).

In 2016, a great new service I’ve discovered is Missinglett_r, where even the free plan gives you nine tweet-outs of each of your new blogposts, spread out over a year, with handy little snippets to attract readers.

When writing your blogpost, be conscious of the fact that people may be reading it off-website, thanks to the tools above. Include links back to your site, to keep driving readers back to specific pages, to where you are selling or promoting.

And don’t forget Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Without SEO, your blogpost will not be found – in which case, it might as well not exist. The number of blogs I come across that simply do not have any SEO plugin or functionality is huge. Indeed, many more have SEO functionality, but the blogger was not taught about it by their so-called website designer. Essentially, be sure that your post has a unique focus keyword (or phrase) – one that no previous post has had. Make each post focus on a different aspect of your business, a new product or service, a new piece of advice, or a new “how-to”. Go and learn about the basics of SEO and inform yourself about your site. Read this article about Basic SEO.

Is blogging about making sales ? Not directly, it isn’t. It’s about PR. Is PR good ? Sure, but it’s not direct sales. It’s softer, slower, less obvious, more subtle. It’s marketing. Get into it.

Business Blogging with wp.org

I blog on WordPress.org, using themes from Woothemes and SEO from Yoast. Watch out! Don’t confuse the business blogging friendly wp.org with the less SEO strong, essentially hobby-friendly wp.com.