Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Do your customers trust your blog?

As you might have heard already, the recent study published by Forrester research shows that the company blogs are the least trusted information sources and customers trust them less then direct mail or even Wikipedia. What is wrong with corporate blogs, you will ask. The researchers say that it is not the medium that is ineffective, it’s the way companies use it that is wrong. The study provoked a lot of discussion and suggestions on how to make the corporate blogs more trustworthy. Essentially, there are three things you might want to consider changing.

First: Think why and how you blog

You obviously blog to raise people’s awareness of your goods and services, but read your posts. Don’t they sound too salezy when you always concentrate on your news, your goods and your offers? It has been proven that you should be adopting the customer’s perspective and voicing their concerns and needs rather than pushing through your own agenda. Advertising and newsletters are appropriate means of passing the message, whereas the blogs have a different function.

Second: Make it personal

Traditionally, people trust companies less than they trust other people and the study can vouch for that as well. Therefore, your customers should like your blog because it is different, because it has a face, because it’s not like other corporate blogs. There must be some personal interest for the readers to be reading your blog. Make the stories more interesting, stimulate discussion, interact extensively and you will see your customers’ trust for your blog and eventually for your brand rise.

Third: Make it professional

You can obviously try writing all of the blog entries yourself, but don’t you already have enough on your plate to worry about? Especially now that you know that your customers are looking for original and creative content, something they would be able to discuss with their friends, not just some writing in the space of the free time you have after all of the other tasks are dealt with. Virtual Blue Bird has come up with a solution for companies who would like to reap the benefits of efficient blogging, without having to do all the writing.

With a team of talented writers and a vast knowledge of the rules of marketing communication, Virtual Blue Bird is able to literally provide you a helping hand to be writing your blogs for you. By delegating the writing of your blogs to an expert, you can ensure that your blog is in accordance with the needs of your customers and is a valuable marketing instrument. Whether you are a business owner or an independent professional requiring blogging support we are able to accommodate for all of you blogging needs.

Quality blogging takes time, effort and creative talent and so does your company’s reputation. It does take a long time to build up a sound reputation for your business so you simply can’t afford making mistakes. Making your blog more professional, personal and customer-focused is essential for establishing a reputation for the success of your business.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Planning ahead: arguments for writing a business plan early

Virtual Blue Bird, a recognized provider of management support services, often works with entrepreneurs who have just recently launched their own business. They come up with all sorts of questions asking for advice and guidance. Drawing on our vast experience of helping business start-ups survive we have learnt a lot about how and why new businesses might fail. This has pushed us to share our experiences for the benefit of all of the new business owners and budding entrepreneurs. Today we would like to discuss when you should consider writing a business plan.

In many cases, managing directors start writing a business plan long after they started the business in order to get extra funding. If you write it at that stage it might already be too late. Moreover, if you require extra funding that usually suggests that something has already gone wrong and you need the extra money to mend the problem. If you do not want it to go wrong unexpectedly, you simply must write up a business plan as early as possible. And you have to do it for yourself even more than for your investors. A business plan provides clarity and a direction for your business development. In fact, studies show that businesses that have a business plan to follow generate higher profits.

So, as soon as you got a somewhat clear idea of what your business is going to be like, start writing. While writing and answering various questions about goals, missions and penetration strategies you will quickly improve your personal understanding of what it could be like and what you might expect to happen. By carrying out simple marketing research you will find out about your competitors and will be able to see your own competitive advantages more clearly. Learning about your target audience and their needs will eventually help you formulate you marketing strategy and roughly predict the sales. Furthermore, when you start writing about cost, pricing and break-even you will see for yourself if the business can be profitable or would simply be a waste of your time.

A business plan also allows you to allocate resources for your start-up. Be it the number of staff or any other finite resources you will be able to see clearly how much of the work can be done and what you should be prioritising. Writing up a business plan will also show you which of the tasks can be outsourced or delegated.

The last but not least of the advantages of having your business plan early is the ability to make everybody aware of your future plans. In order for a team to be working in the same direction, they need to be aware of the goals you have set for the business. Inspiring a shared vision has always been one of the most effective leadership tools that the business plan helps you make use of.

Having a business plan ready before you set out on your entrepreneurial adventure will enable you with a clear vision of future challenges and a realisation of the direction that you intend to follow. Being informed will therefore save you money, time and energy that you can otherwise invest in the growth of your business.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Getting noticed at the networking events

Networking is building and using your formal and informal connections for business expansion. Today in London various networking events are being organised on a daily basis. They attract large numbers of participants and during the event you would meet on average 10 to 20 new people. With so many people around it is often difficult to get noticed. The key thing, however, is being able to make a good first impression, so that people you meet can still remember you long after the event.

There are three things you need in order to make networking events work for you.

Body Language

You should always remember that no matter what you say or how creative and interesting your ideas are, people will still get their first impression from the way you look. Therefore, your body language should demonstrate confidence. There are many ways to make you look more confident, think about your posture, your gestures and do not hesitate to look straight into the people’s eyes.

Be a Good Listener

Another important thing people will remember you for is listening to what they have to say. At the networking events everybody wants to talk about themselves and their business and people usually forget about the importance of being a good listener; but think about it, listening could be beneficial in many ways. For one, listening to others would allow you to see new business opportunities. On the other hand, people like to talk about their experiences, so listening to their stories could open your eyes on some of the issues you did not see coming. And on top of that people will remember you for showing genuine interest in them, by simply letting them do the talking.

Make a Lasting Impression

Now that you have already made a good impression by looking confident and listening to your new acquaintance you would want to make sure that this impression is lasting. You might be wondering how to do that, but the answer is very simple. Now, it is your turn to say something. People will remember you if what you say is interesting and relevant to them, so make a business proposition, offer advice, recommend somebody. Whatever you do keep them interested in what you have to say. If the situation is such that there is nothing at all that you could say of interest to your new acquaintance, which is quite unlikely, there is still something you can do to be remembered. Try to make a clever compliment. You obviously should not compliment their beautiful eyes, but their professional abilities and talents could be an option. You will find out more about those from just listening to them.

Therefore the formula for your success at networking is very simple. Body language plus Listening, plus Relevant Information equal a lasting positive impression. After the event, remember to follow up with an email, in which you could mention what you talked about. This would be an easy way to remind the people you have met about yourself and your business.