When we talk to business owners about their current customers, we tend to find they fall into 1 of 3 camps:

 

1) They understand exactly who they sell to and why, which is fab.

2) They think they know who their customers are and why they buy, but aren’t sure if their beliefs are true.


Or 


3) They have no idea who their customers are, so they might as well be the invisible man.

The problem with the invisible man is that no one really knows anything about him – and that’s exactly what many of our clients find about their own customers. Without a solid knowledge of who your customers are and why they really buy from you, a lot of your marketing efforts are doomed to fail. At Pickle Marketing, we help business owners understand exactly who their customers are, so that they can market and sell to them more effectively. But how do you identify the invisible man?

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At Pickle HQ, there is always something exciting going on. From running workshops with groups of hyperactive business owners to posting cute animal photos with a powerful message, our team is all about having fun and enjoying the social side of social media. But we don’t talk about ourselves much – we spend most of our time talking about our wonderful clients. So this month, we thought we would do a bit of a ‘meet the team’ post, and introduce you to one of our friendliest, and certainly most popular team members, Pickles.

 

Hi! My name’s Pickles, and I run things here at Pickle HQ.

I’m 32 years old (which 4 in your human years) and I’m a West Highland Terrier, which means I’m super friendly. I love coming into Pickle HQ every day, sometimes more than mummy, who doesn’t get out of the car nearly fast enough. My mummy likes to call me her ‘meet and greet’ team, and I take my job very seriously. Every new person who visits Pickle HQ will get a cuddle and a handshake from me, as well as a tour around the office. I always say visitors are welcome to use any of my beds to sit in, but for some reason they prefer those big uncomfortable looking chairs.

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Never underestimate the importance of taking a break.  And I mean taking a proper break.

Phone off, emails ignored, social media sites out of sight and out of mind.


What am I saying? Social media sites off limits? Surely not. The whole point of social media is to be sociable, and what’s more sociable than sharing images of your holiday, letting family, friends and colleagues take a break by proxy as they frolic in the sand and splash in the sea with you … virtually.

In fact, I’ve seen the light, brothers and sisters.

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Marketing is hard. We’re not going to sugar coat that bit for you unfortunately. It’s one of the toughest parts of running your own business, because it’s one of the main drivers behind gaining new customers. 


Without marketing your business in some way, you will only see limited success, which if you ask us is a crying shame. At Pickle Marketing, we want your business to succeed, so we make it our mission to help you.

In general, there are 3 ways you can manage your marketing – outsource it, do it yourself or secret option 3.


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It’s easy to make the assumption that everyone knows everything there is to know about how to use LinkedIn.
 

It’s been around since 2003 and by its tenth birthday had attracted 225 million members.

 

As of last month – April 2017 – it had 500 million members across the globe.

 

Impressive figures, but the sheer scale of the platform can make it intimidating for newbies.

 

We often meet people who set up a LinkedIn account and who have never done anything with it, so it’s wonderful when we assemble a bunch of people who have become LinkedIn sceptics through lack of use and then open their eyes to the possibilities with just a tiny effort.

Our most recent LinkedIn workshop attracted Janine Lewis of 3J Fitness in Reading, who was looking for ways to expand the three streams of her business – outdoor fitness, wellbeing and nutrition.

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Hands up if you really, truly enjoy planning your social media?…
 

Not many hands there. Ok, how about if you don’t enjoy doing it, but you do it begrudgingly because you know you need to?…

 

A few more hands there, that’s good. And how about those of you that don’t enjoy it, so it just doesn’t get done?…

Here we see the majority. It’s ok though, don’t panic! Most people end up in those last 2 categories. In fact, many people think that because social media is all about interaction and conversation, it doesn’t require any planning at all. And at the beginning, they might be right. But as business picks up and they get busy, all of that goes to the dogs. The truth is that social media requires careful planning and preparation, just like all of your other marketing. But if you’ve never touch social media before, how to you know where to start? Luckily, your social media superheros are here to help.

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If you’ve been following us for a while, you may (or may not) have noticed that our head social media superhero Lisa has been nominated for an award! In fact, she’s breezed through the first round and has made it to the final! 

We at Pickle Towers are incredibly proud of her for this achievement, and wanted to tell you all a little bit about what this award means for Lisa.


What Are The Venus Awards

 

The Venus Awards (also known as the Working Women’s Oscars) is an award to recognise, reward and celebrate local working women in business. While it is a nationwide award, each region has their own nominations and ceremonies. In fact, it started out as a regional award in Dorset back in 2009 before exploding across the country. Now there are over 11 regions involved in hosting Venus Awards, with 19 categories up for grabs in each one. But what’s really, really special, is that this is the first year the Venus Awards have been held in the Thames Valley! According to this wonderful press release, they had 1,400 nominations and 320 applications for the awards, and last extraordinary number was whittled down to 3 finalists for each category, through a combination of sponsor and public judging. Now the finals are drawing nearer, and we can’t wait to see Lisa in her best dress getting ready for the big news.


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Our most recent blog post on networking prompted a question on our Facebook page.

‘I need tips for small talk for shy people,’ said Tabitha Rawlinson. 


We quickly responded but wanted to expand on our reply, so here’s our guide to conversation-starters.


People love talking about themselves or their interests, so you’ll find that the more interested you are in other people – and the better you listen – the more interesting they will think you are.

That’s not to say you should suffer in silence as the person opposite you bores for their nation, but the key to good small talk is asking good questions which invite more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

Make a mental note of the following, and add a few of your own along similar lines once you have a good feeling for how well they work.

With all of these, once you have people talking in response to your questions, you’ll find the conversation should flow and if you want to keep it going you you can always jump in with follow-up observations of your own or follow-up questions.

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Lisa is dead chuffed to be in the semi-finalist stage for "Networker of the Year" 
Venus Women in Business Awards - the event on Monday 27th February at Marshalls Reading was a fantastic event, celebrating Women in Business and she was proud to be a part of it. 


Networking is such an important part of my business, and the fact that I’ve been nominated has focused my thoughts on why I love that aspect of Pickle Marketing.


Here’s my guide to what makes a good networker, based on my experiences as a member of the BNI Reading Central Chapter, an amazing group of energised, engaging and helpful business people who have grown to become the flagship BNI Chapter in the Thames Valley.

I take over the role of President on April 1st and we are moving to a swanky new venue at Green Park Conference Centre as we have outgrown our existing meeting place.

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As its Valentines - we're sharing the Love this week by offering a simple marketing tip that will win you more business...

It's marketing at its simplest and its best – and it reflects that old adage that the best things in life are free.  This one isn't quite free, but it will cost only a moment of your time and the cost of a postage stamp.

Marketing is about getting your name in front of as many people as possible, so our tip is to carry a supply of Thank You cards and stamped envelopes in your car for when you visit clients, customers or prospective customers.

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Has anybody been telling you to set some goals for 2017?

Of course they have.

The world and his wife are frantically shouting at you to have reachable outcomes in mind. If you don’t you’ll get to December 2017 and look back, only to discover that your business didn’t make the strides forward you intended.

All because you didn’t have a destination in mind.

Graham in the Pickle team tells us that when he was very young his family used to get in the car for a day out and when he asked where they were going the reply from the front seat would be ‘Let’s see where the car takes us.’

And it used to drive him mad, because even as a tender little lad he knew full well that the car wasn’t capable of going anywhere without his Dad pressing the pedals and steering the wheel.

Even now, with driverless cars a reality, you still need to tell them where to go.

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Frankly, we’re too busy. Honestly, we have that many clients we couldn’t possibly squeeze you in as well.

Why don’t you go to those nice people who say they’re the experts? They have the word ‘guru’ in their bumpf so they must be good.

And they’ve told you exactly what you need to be doing without wasting any of your time listening to what you have to say about it.

Then there’s the flashy video that just popped up in your Facebook timeline. It looked good – I mean, it was a-maze-ing, dahling, and the music was that hit from last year and it must have cost them a packet in copyright, so they’ll be happy to spend your money on big-budget stuff, obvs.

And they must be incredibly immersed in their clients because they don’t appear to be too worried about updating their own channels on a regular basis. OK, so the video was good but that’s the first thing they’ve done on their own Facebook page since Danny Baker got kicked out of the jungle.

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What’s your favourite James Corden Carpool Karaoke? 

Adele, Stevie Wonder, Madonna – or the latest Bruno Mars video has to be up there with the best! It’s our personal fav here at Pickle Towers. Take a watch here...

But have you noticed what happens at the end of each recording?

Corden points to the bottom of the screen and makes sure you know how to subscribe to his channel in order to catch up on videos you might have missed – or to make sure you don’t miss out in future.

The Tonight Show don’t want you to miss out, either, because the more people who log on and watch him dueting with their favourite singers, the bigger the kerr-ching from those lovely advertisers.

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There’s no getting away from it, social media is at the forefront of digital marketing and it's here to stay. In fact, it's been reported that up to 80% of us check our smartphones before even venturing into the bathroom to brush our teeth in the morning (yep, we’re guilty of that one!).

It would, therefore, be fair to say this is the prime real estate of a marketing platform to grow your business.

The challenge, is of course to capture the reaction from your average ‘speed scroller’, to provoke that vital tap of a thumb which will bring their spinning timeline to an abrupt halt just where you want them to be. Hovering over your content and its associated, all important ‘like’, ‘share’ and URL options. 

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Killer subject fields and punchy opening lines ensure readers stay with you in your email marketing. If you don’t grab your reader within seven seconds they’ll be gone.

Too many email marketing newsletters take up valuable time by beginning with the words ‘Hello everyone.’

What a waste.

Learn a lesson from the late Terry Wogan. Read more...

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You may not be aware of this, but we’re big lovers of social media over here at Pickle Towers. We love even more a social platform dedicated to just images and that’s why Instagram is one of our favourite social channels to use at the moment.

Your business could be benefiting from this superb platform, but like others we’re guessing your stuck at the ‘I wouldn’t know what to post’ or a very common one ‘I’m a service based business, I don’t have any images to promote my services’. Whilst it is true that a service based business might struggle a bit more as there isn’t a physical product to share, this just encourages you to think out the box and be creative on how you market your business.

So if you’re still not sure about it, consider these points:

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How valuable are the testimonials people provide when you ask for feedback?

The whole point of a testimonial is to provide encouragement to others to use your services or buy your goods.

After all, the praise of an existing customer can be most powerful.

But there’s a danger that we might accept flattering comments and think they will help to improve how others see us, when in fact they might have the opposite effect.

It’s great when someone says nice things about you, and it’s even better when they put it in writing so you can share it with other people.  But is what they say about you of any value?  Read on...

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Thinking of running a promotion or competition related to the Olympic Games?

Makes sense, doesn’t it, with the eyes of the world on Rio, and everybody catching the Olympics bug again.

What a wonderful marketing opportunity.

But you run the risk of legal action if you use any logo or even certain words linked with the Games – unless you have secured the rights to do so and have been properly licensed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The protected use of a logo and any name associated with the Games is to preserve the commercial viability of enabling the Games to make money – which is ironic given that the Olympic movement was launched to provide opportunities for the youth of the world to come together and celebrate sport as amateurs. Read on...

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Remember your first driving lesson. That’s not a question – go on, think about it. We’ll wait for a moment.  How did you feel?

Were you anxious about all the different things that needed to happen to make the car travel? And were you worried that you might hit someone or that someone would hit you? 

Your instructor was a calming influence, no doubt, and quickly reassured you and guided you through the processes that were going to help you achieve your aim of becoming a competent driver.

That’s exactly how it will be when you launch a Twitter account – or any other social media presence.

You’ll feel as though there’s too much stuff to pick up at once and that you’re going to be wasting time with little end result.

Then, the calming influence comes along – us!

You discover our Social Media For Beginners workshops (next one is 6th September) and register a place here.

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If you're a business owner in and around the Reading area, then we'd love to see you at this Reading Business Networking Event on Thursday 7th July, 6.30-9.30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Caversham. 

Join us for an evening of BBQ, keynote speakers, networking and collaboration.  (...and if England make it to the semi-finals in the Euro's, then we'll also have the game on the big screen!).

We are expecting to have 50+ guests at this event and tickets are already selling fast. This event is going to be fun and lively, with a real emphasis on building relationships and passing business.  

Make sure you bring plenty of business cards with you - you never know, your next best customer could be there on the night. 

You will also receive a full list of pre-registered delegates at the event so you can continue to build the relationships long after the event. 

Book here: https://goo.gl/dOZiuJ 

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Do you sometimes feel as though your business is ruining you?

We could repeat that question and change just one letter, and you might still be nodding in agreement.

Do you sometimes feel as though your business is running you – as opposed to you running it?

When you feel dizzy from running round in circles or if you get to the end of the week and scream ‘Enough’ – it’s time to act.

Not by running away, but by putting a system in place to ensure you stay in control.

There are simple, manageable steps you can take to achieve this, and we’re very well-placed to offer leadership in this key area. Read on...

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As a business leader you have so many ways to reach new and existing customers.You should be delighted about that.

But you’re not, because it’s likely that you currently fall into one of two categories:

  • You try and do too much, so you don’t do anything effectively, or …

  • You wave the white flag in surrender and you don’t do anything at all

Be reassured that you’re not alone, but don’t go easy on yourself. Neither of the above is acceptable – and you know it.

The nagging doubts won’t go away, so let’s banish them by making a decision about the one area on which you can focus -- an area that will bring great results if done correctly.

E-mail newsletters written in the right way and despatched using the correct software bring many benefits so here are your five email newsletter essentials.

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Running through the winter has harmed my running style. I noticed this on Sunday during a ten-mile training run.

I needed to complete that distance in preparation for the Reading Half Marathon on April 3, but halfway through I noticed a problem. I’m kicking myself for not noticing it sooner and therefore not doing anything about it before.

The reason I’m so cross with myself is that it relates to a principle which I practice in my business. I had my head down running into the wind – which, incidentally, was blinking cold – and I suddenly became aware that it’s a habit I’d got into... read more

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Facebook’s new emojis represent much more to your business than a playful extension of how the reader reacts to your post.

People got very excited on Wednesday when plain old ‘thumbs up’ disappeared to be replaced by a set of six emoticons expressing a range of emotions – although not, disappointingly, a dislike button.

Your newsfeed promptly became awash with people asking you what you thought of them and we imagine that you quickly searched for interesting posts to which you could respond.

As one, the Facebook community seemed dead set on making the most of its new-found freedom to express precisely the emotion invoked by each new post.

But what are they for? Really.

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Timing a direct mail shot, telephone call or personal visit to coincide perfectly with a customer being ready to make a purchase decision is very difficult, and a key marketing objective for most businesses will be to maintain a level of awareness, so that their products or services will be front of mind when a customer is in buying mode. But finding ways to keep in touch – without appearing to be too pushy or ‘salesy’ is always something of a delicate balancing act. 

Is this an issue you recognise? If so, one extremely cost-effective way to stay engaged with your prospects and customers all year round, is to send out a regular email newsletter. Used strategically, it can be a powerful part of your marketing activity. 

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For the second year running, our very own running superstar has entered the Reading Half Marathon which is taking place on Sunday 3rd April. 

She is doing a great job fundraising for Sue Ryder Care - a charity which is very close to Lisa and her family's heart. The Nettlebed Hospice near Henley provides specialist care and support to people with life limiting conditions as well as their families and loved ones. 

You can read all about Lisa's story and donate to her JustGiving Page at: www.justgiving.com/runpicklerun 

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Slow but sure isn’t a phrase that sits well with many business sectors in 2016.

Customers and clients need answers quickly so if you’re not in a position to give them they will go elsewhere.

Here are some challenging figures from Sprout Social, the social media software people, who say …

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Commit to doing more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t!  These may be the tasks that take up too much of your time or cause you stress - so make life easier and learn to delegate.  Remember, what you see as chores others see as challenges!  Whether that be marketing, bookkeeping or that dreaded admin and paperwork.  

It's important you concentrate on spending more time on activities that accentuate your talents and ultimately earn you more money and less time trying to improve your weaknesses or shortcomings. 

Here's a round up of our Pickle 2016 New Year Business Resolutions...

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How can we improve our marketing? If you’re asking that question as part of your business review for 2015 we have a two-word answer that’s guaranteed to make it better -- big ears!

Whether you have an in-house team or whether you outsource your marketing, the biggest single factor in that team’s success is listening.

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Newsletters are great. They let you keep in regular contact with clients and prospects, show off your knowledge and make a great avenue to promote your events and special offers to the right people. But it’s not just the writing that can be a challenge – getting them past the spam filters and into the right inbox is the biggest hurdle of all. So how do you make sure your newsletters aren’t just being filed away as spam every month? Read more...

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