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.

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 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:


    A Look Around Kobe – Japan’s Most Attractive City

    There are so many great places to visit in Japan. My personal favourite is the port city of Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture in the Kansai Region, Western Japan.

    Perhaps this is no coincidence because it’s my wife’s home city. I’ve been there many times over the years and got to know it quite well.

    Kobe’s Port Tower and Meriken Park

    Although Kobe suffered a devastating earthquake in 1995 which killed over 6,400 people, the damaged areas of the city have been completely rebuilt. Few signs of the quake remain.

    Foreign visitors to Japan mostly seem to take a well-trodden path, which doesn’t usually bring them to Kobe – the typical “see as much of Japan as you can in a week” tourist itinerary includes a few days in Tokyo, a stop at Mount Fuji, a bullet-train to Kyoto to see the temples, then back to Narita for the flight home.

    If you do find yourself in Japan, and you’re not on one of these guided tours, I recommend that you try to visit Kobe – you’ll find it very rewarding, but you’ll need to set aside 3 or 4 days in order to see all the sights mentioned in this blog.

    For a start the city has a wonderfully attractive natural setting, sandwiched between Osaka Bay and the Rokko Mountains. From Mount Rokko, which is easily reachable by cable car, a panoramic view of the whole Hanshin region (Kobe and Osaka) can be had. By day the view is impressive. By night it’s simply stunning.

    Kobe’s $10 million night view

    Kobe’s location and climate makes it a very pleasant city in which to live. People who work in the neighbouring and much bigger city of Osaka (20 minutes away by train) often prefer to live in Kobe, although it’s pretty expensive. So many celebrities now live in the Ashiya area of the city that it’s known as the Beverly Hills of Japan.

    Kobe has a vibrant food culture. This is after all the home of world-famous Kobe Beef. This isn’t just beef that comes from Kobe – it’s beef that comes from a particular breed of cow (Tajima-ushi). The cows are raised in a specific place, in a particular way, and the meat is graded according to some very strict rules. It’s illegal to export Kobe Beef, so the only way to taste the real thing is to come to Japan and try it.

    Kobe Beef

    It’s a city with rather a sweet tooth as well. The cakes at Morozoff are sublime as are the handmade chocolates at Goncharoff and the Kobe Fugetsudo gaufres. Tins of Kobe gaufres make great souvenirs.

    The city also has some great shopping. The quality and variety of both the shopping and restaurants in Kobe, particularly in the downtown Sannomiya area, is every bit as good as you’ll find in Tokyo or Osaka.

    Kobe has been an important port city for centuries and was one of the first places in Japan to be opened up for foreign trade in the 19th century. As such it has always had a relatively large community of non-Japanese residents, particularly Chinese, Indians and Europeans. Today the city has a vibrant Chinatown (Nankinmachi area), a sizeable Indian community and a surprising number of long-term western residents.

    Nankinmachi (Chinatown) Area of Kobe

    At the foot of the Rokko mountains is Kitano-cho (北野町, Kitanochō) an area where diplomats and wealthy foreign merchants settled in the second half of the 19th century. This area features a number of grand mansions, known as Ijinkan, more than a dozen of which are open to the public as museums. This is a lovely area to walk around as its steep, narrow streets have a nice variety of cafes, restaurants and boutiques.

    Stories of Kitano Ijinkan

    Ijinkan area in Kitano-cho

    Kobe has long been famous for its sake – the Nada district of the city is the world’s top sake-producing region. The Hakutsuru Sake Brewery has a brewery museum in its grounds where you can see the whole process of sake brewing and there is usually an opportunity to do some sake-tasting.

    Kobe certainly makes the most of its location by the sea – Kobe Harborland is a lively waterfront shopping and entertainment district and Meriken Park is a waterfront park full of modern art and home to some of the best examples of the city’s iconic contemporary architecture, including the bright red Kobe Port Tower and the Kobe Maritime Museum.

    The city also has some attractive gardens and shrines. The Sorakuen (which has a Japanese garden and a Western-style garden) and Ikuta Jinja (a shrine) in Sannomiya are well worth a visit.


    Other places not to be missed around Kobe include Arima Onsen, a famous hot spring resort town on the other side of the Rokko Mountains, and the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, which, at almost 4 kilometres, is the world’s longest suspension bridge. It spans the Akashi Strait and connects Japan’s main island of Honshu with Shikoku.

    Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Pearl Bridge)

    The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

    The city also has its own airport. Kobe Airport opened in 2006 and is built on an artificial island only 8 kilometres from the city centre. The Port Liner (monorail) will take you from Sannomiya to the airport in just 18 minutes.

    Once you’ve seen all the sights of Kobe and sampled some of the great food you can either jet off from Kobe Airport or take a bullet-train from Shin-Kobe Station and continue your travels around Japan.

    Steve Shaw,

    Bishopsgate Copywriting

    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?


    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.

    UK Localisation: What Is It and Who Needs It?

    UK localisation is not some Government policy intended to ensure that only local people get jobs. It’s actually the process whereby products, services, software, websites and text documents are adapted to the language, culture and “look-and-feel” of a particular country, in this case the UK.

    When localising any product or service for the UK, translation alone tends not to be enough – the ultimate objective of localisation is to make sure that the product or service appears to have been developed locally, by local people for local people.

    As well as ensuring that the spelling, grammar and punctuation are suitably tailored it’s essential that local idioms and linguistic conventions are used. It’s often necessary to make subtle changes to take account of things like local social, cultural, racial and religious sensitivities, gender roles, geography, topography, date/time formats and national holidays.

    After the translation work has been done, successful UK localisation requires the additional services of people with these two key skills:

    • mother-tongue language skills
    • expertise in local cultural sensitivities

    For any business which wants to succeed in the UK market with its product or service it’s important to get it localised properly. When, for example, UK consumers see Spanglish, Franglish, Chinglish or Japlish in UK marketing content they quickly get the impression that the company isn’t really thinking very much about its target customers here.

    If localisation is overlooked, or just poorly done, the business runs the risk of reputational damage and possible damage to its brand, as well as the financial implications of poor sales. Equally, when localisation is done skilfully and thoroughly the benefits can be significant.

    Bishopsgate Copywriting have the UK localisation skills that non-UK businesses require.

    If you need to get your website, product manual or any other type of text document localised for the UK market please contact us today for a quote.

    Steve Shaw, Bishopsgate Copywriting

    Bishopsgate Copywriting are based in Sevenoaks, England and specialise in financial and business copywriting and editing for websites and print media.

    New Website? Don’t Forget That The Words Are Important Too

    I’m a copywriter. When I’m not writing I do a fair amount of networking, both through Twitter and Facebook, and also the old-fashioned way where you go out and chat face-to-face with people over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. In the local area there are networking events of one kind or another happening almost every day.

    One thing I’ve noticed is the sheer number of people who are doing website design, either as their mainstream business, or as a sideline to earn some extra cash. This is great – with so many people in this sector, as well as the wide array of website design packages available, people can now get a new website built and hosted for a very reasonable price.

    There seems to be a downside to this era of cheap websites though. Nearly everybody thinks that they can write good web copy and so every day thousands of new websites go live which have been put together by a web-designer and the client. I see lots of posts on Twitter which say “please have a look at my new website,”, so I do…and I see this….

    ……lots of websites with great graphics, dazzling imagery and fancy things happening when you click on a tab, but let down by poor quality copy which ensures the site will never be found in Google searches. In all the excitement of launching a new website it seems that design is king and the words don’t matter so much.

    I think there is a solution though. Instead of the two party relationship between client and web designer, overall website quality would improve dramatically if a third party was brought into the relationship – a copywriter.

    It’s not a state secret that great web designers generally don’t make great copywriters (any more than a great carpenter makes a great electrician) and many clients choose to provide their own copy in order to bring down costs. Not involving a copywriter when you’re working on a new website really can be a false economy though unless the client happens to be among the fairly small group of people who are highly skilled at writing web copy.

    Of course I would say these things as a copywriter, wouldn’t I? Well yes, but if you’re paying several hundred pounds for a new website just stop and think about what you’re doing for a moment – surely it’s just plain common sense to devote as much time and effort on ensuring that you have quality SEO-optimised web copy as you would on achieving great site design. After all, when you have a new website you want potential customers to find it, and once they’re on it you want this to be a positive experience for them.

    Steve Shaw, Bishopsgate Copywriting

    Bishopsgate Copywriting are based in Sevenoaks, England and specialise in financial and business copywriting and copyediting for websites and print media.