The Bottle and the Mug – a Sustainability Tale

A bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water from Italy and a coffee mug featuring a slogan that suggests its owner didn’t vote for Brexit. What’s the connection between the two? Let me explain.

For many years I’ve been a happy consumer of imported sparkling mineral water from Europe, both in restaurants and at home, without every really stopping to think about my choice. San Pellegrino, Perrier, Evian and all the other well-known European mineral water brands are nice to drink and reassuringly expensive. If you order any of them in a restaurant, nobody is going to think you’re a cheapskate.

A Roadmap to Sustainability for Small Businesses

There can be little doubt that consumers care deeply about the environment and sustainability, and they prefer to deal with businesses which care about these things too. According to a recent survey conducted by Accenture, a leading global management consultancy, 60% of respondents said that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic they were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases.

A societal shift towards making better environmental choices had begun well before the pandemic took hold and it seems likely to accelerate further once the world returns to normal.

Top Tips for Better LinkedIn Posts

The first line of your post is critical

Give very careful thought to your first line, because as your LinkedIn audience reads it this is the moment when they will decide whether to continue reading your post or just scroll on past it.

Never underestimate the power of the visual

Creating content isn’t just about the writing itself. Use images that support the content. This improves the overall reading experience. And don’t forget to optimise your images. A high percentage of LinkedIn engagement is on mobile devices, so make sure your images suit small devices as well. Use video content where you can, as this also helps greatly to drive engagement. Videos should start with essential information and end with your call to action (see below).

Small Businesses Need to Up Their Game on Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

A very good friend of mine, Julian Lyons, runs IMI Ltd., a long-established premium sourcing company based in Central London. Julian recently announced in a LinkedIn post that his company, which does a lot of business internationally, particularly with China, had updated the Sustainability and Ethics Policy on its website. It’s a very comprehensive policy and I know that Julian believes passionately that his company should operate sustainably and needs to avoid at all costs doing business with any suppliers which could be benefitting from the use of child labour or forced labour.

Why Web Copywriting is a Bit Like Plastering

…. it looks easy, but try it yourself and you’ll struggle to get a perfect finish.

You’re looking at your website and thinking …it’s time it had a makeover, so you happily hire a web designer to do the design and development work for your new site. You quickly realise that web design work is expensive so you try and reduce the project cost by writing the copy for the new website yourself.

Does this sound like you? Happy to spend lots of money on web design because you can’t do it yourself, but keen to write the copy because that’s the easy part, right?

Wrong!

The uncomfortable truth is that too many business websites fail to meet the basic expectations of their customers and it’s often poor writing that’s to blame. If the information on a website is poorly written, badly organised or just hard to find this is a sure-fire way to drive potential customers away.

Small Business Websites – What to Include on an “About” Page

It’s important for every small business to give careful thought as to what it puts on its About page. After the Home page it’s often the page that site visitors will go to next, and is one which can strongly influence the decision about whether or not to do business with you.

In other words it’s about credibility and trust. A visitor to your site will typically go to your About page to find out if you’re a business of substance. People only buy from businesses that they trust.

Think of your About page as a window into your business. It’s your opportunity to outline what your business does, how long it’s been trading and where it’s located. Site visitors will also expect to find information there about the size of the business (particularly the number of employees) and gain some insights about the people who run it.

Having said all this you need to remember that in today’s world, where skim-reading has become the norm, you don’t have too much time to get your key messages across. For this reason the content of your About page needs to be succinct. Few people will trawl through endless paragraphs about the history of your business, so keep the content short and snappy.

Another way to consider the value of an About page is to think of it as an extension of the Home page. The two pages should complement each other. It’s OK to have some overlap between the Home page content and the About page content but try to avoid too much repetition.

From an SEO perspective the About page should also include additional keywords which weren’t included in the Home page. Having a good About page means that you don’t have to cram your Home page with keywords – this can make the content seem contrived, as well as uninteresting to read.

Here are 6 key things an About page should communicate to the reader:

  • What the business does and who it does it for
  • How long the business has been operating and (one or two) key company milestones
  • Where the business is located, including any branches (adding photos of the business premises can be useful)
  • How many people work in the business and who the key decision-makers are (photos & short bios of key personnel are good, as are short video introductions)
  • What it is that differentiates the business from its competitors
  • What the core values of the business are.  Inclusion of the company’s mission statement can be helpful.
  • Twitter as a Marketing Tool for Small Businesses

    As an active networker I meet a lot of business owners in my local area (Kent and S.E. London). I usually ask business owners I haven’t met before how (or if) they use Twitter as a way of raising the profile of their business and finding new customers.

    Most of them tell me that they understand the marketing potential of Twitter. Many of them already have a Twitter account for their business but a lot of them also tell me that they just don’t have enough time to manage this account properly.

    It’s certainly true that building up a critical mass of quality followers on Twitter takes time and effort – there are really no easy short-cuts. Business owners will need to set aside some “Twitter Time” each day. In building up their followers they should aim to target people on Twitter who’ll either spread the word to others on Twitter about the business or be likely purchasers of products/services from the business themselves.

    It’s quite easy to build up follower numbers through follow-backs if you’re not particularly choosy about who you follow, but the reality is that local businesses need local followers. Having a whole lot of “bots” following you on Twitter is not going to be of much use.

    If your business is one which sells products online throughout the UK it’s a different story – having a geographically well-spread Twitter following is preferable, but if you’re say a taxi company based in Sevenoaks you’re going to want to have a Twitter following that’s predominantly local. It may be nice to have lots of Twitter followers in the U.S. but as a taxi company the people who will use and therefore who need to know about your services are mainly going to live within say a 10 mile radius of Sevenoaks.

    So, having started to build up a local Twitter following, if our Sevenoaks taxi company wants to get the best out of Twitter it will need to achieve a sufficient level of engagement with its followers. To do this the business owner will need to tweet about the things that people who will use a local taxi service are interested in – special offers, traffic delays and perhaps fun stuff too – famous passengers, or anecdotes about getting passengers to Heathrow Airport with minutes to spare.

    I meet many business owners who set up a Twitter account and for a short time really give it a go. Then they start to get frustrated that their follower numbers aren’t growing and that time spent on Twitter doesn’t seem to be translating into new business. The message I would give them is this – be patient and don’t give up on Twitter.

    You need to tweet regularly and really think about who you want to reach. If you don’t devote sufficient time to managing a Twitter account, tweet infrequently or just don’t tweet anything that really engages your target customers, Twitter probably won’t work for your business as a marketing tool.

    In my personal opinion Twitter can work for pretty much any small business. It certainly works for mine. Any company that wants to do more business using Twitter has to have a Twitter marketing plan (which doesn’t need to be anything elaborate) and has to stick at it.

     

    Getting the Best Out of Twitter as a Marketing Tool

    Here are my tips for the owners of small businesses:

    1. Tweet (and re-tweet) regularly (at least once a day).

    2. Tweet stuff that is of interest to your followers – engage, entertain and enlighten them.

    3. Follow people who might need your services – hopefully they’ll follow you back. (Use Nearbytweets.com to find local people to follow).

    4. Use the search feature to find Twitter conversations to engage in.

    5. Start Twitter conversations. Ask and answer questions on Twitter. Respond to mentions.

    6. Measure the results of your Twitter marketing. Ask people where they found you (don’t be afraid to DM your followers). Allow them to print a coupon/voucher that you only put on Twitter so you can track its effectiveness.

    7. Make sure that your Twitter marketing ties in with your other marketing activities, particularly your business website. Twitter is a helpful marketing tool but it’s not a small business marketing solution in its own right.

     

    Steve Shaw

    Steve is the owner of Bishopsgate Copywriting and works in Sevenoaks, Kent.

    Bishopsgate Copywriting specialise in financial and business marketing copywriting for websites and print media. For further information please visit:

    https://www.bishopsgatecopy.co.uk/