Sunday, 11 May 2014

How Public Relations Can Help Your Small Business Grow

How Public Relations Can Help Your Small Business Grow

PR: An Essential Cornerstone to Every Business Plan 

When small business owners create a business plan they often include advertising but neglect to include public relations, one of the most cost-effective methods for small businesses to raise awareness.   I think that the reason is simple – we encounter advertising on a daily basis so it is more familiar, but many are unaware of the role that PR plays in the articles they read. In most cases, public relations is much less expensive than advertising, and can be incredibly valuable to a small business.  Depending on how hard you’re willing to work, PR can even be free.  Small businesses have tight budgets and will typically get more for their money when choosing PR over advertising.

If you’re a small business that’s weighing the benefits of advertising vs. public relations, here are some reasons why you should consider making public relations a cornerstone of your company’s growth strategy.

When a consumer sees third party coverage of a product or service, it is perceived much differently than a traditional advertisement.  When we see an advertisement, we know the company is trying to sell us something.  When a third party, such as the media, endorses a product or service, the company gains credibility.  Consumers are much more likely to make a purchase based on third party endorsement than an advertisement.

A consistent public relations program will help build general awareness of your product, service or brand and will supplement any direct marketing and advertising efforts.  This visibility also tends to make your business appear larger and more established than it may be, which may help you secure partnerships, customers and funding.

Chances are the last time you made a purchase you used a search engine to do some online research.  Public relations can help you capitalize on this process. An article at on online news outlet, a broadcast clip posted online, or a news release distributed to web outlets – all of these provide valuable inbound links to your website that increase your rank in Google.

PR is also good for your bottom line. PR is much less expensive than advertising and the benefits of PR can be much more substantial than the benefits of advertising. One good media placement can lead to a substantial increase in sales and tremendous growth, and because many small businesses have a unique story to tell, they are interesting to the media.
If you are after assistance in your PR plan, contact Tony Park - Head Gardener at Business Gardener 

6 essential resources to grow your business

Watering Can
By San Sharma

For Your Tool Box

Congratulations! You’ve started your own business. You’ve identified that you want to be your own boss, and you’ve turned your idea into an income – albeit a modest one. So, what do you do now?
You could a) rest on your laurels, b) stick to your day job, or c) grow your business into something that makes more money, reaches more people, is more ambitious and rewarding. It’s by no means the easiest option, but then you didn’t start a business because you were afraid of a little hard work, did you?
San SharmaThere are lots of ways to grow your business without out-growing your home or breaking the bank. Here are some things to do and places to turn to take your business to the next level.
  1. Sell online. You don’t need to know a single line of code to set up your own website and online shop. With web building software like Moonfruit, it’s as easy and dragging and dropping products from your inventory to your store front. Alternatively, you can list your products on online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy– and sell directly to existing and engaged communities of customers.
  2. Turn one-off sales into repeat custom. Whether you sell online or in face-to-face meetings, treat data about your customers like gold dust. When did they last buy from you? What did they buy? Maintaining an intelligent list of your customers gives you the chance to get back in touch with personalized and meaningful sales messages that could make the difference between a one-off customer and a repeat customer. Consider using software like Constant Contact to store and market to your customer database.
  3. Attract new customers. With a good customer database in place, don’t be afraid to use it! Ask happy customers to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Advertise in local media or try other forms of marketing, such as Facebook advertising or Twitter. Speak to people who don’t use your products and services and address their needs.
  4. Try crowdfunding. If funding is stopping you from launching a new product or service, there are some low-risk things you can try. Crowdfunding is a way to raise small amounts of money from lots of people. You set yourself a target and reward donors with exclusive access to your products or services. If you don’t hit the target, then all donations are returned. The challenge and the discipline involved in fundraising this way is great for your business, for reaching new audiences and for building hype for new products and services. You can crowdfund with Enterprise Nation.
  5. Outsource to other small businesses. If the thought (and costs) of taking on staff scares you, don’t worry. You can quickly and easily increase your productivity by outsourcing work to other freelancers and small businesses. Expand and contract your virtual workforce around projects, so you can compete with big businesses when you want to and stay small at other times. You can concentrate on what you do best, and outsource the rest! There are websites that make outsourcing easy, such as Elance and PeoplePerHour.
  6. Get some advice. In America, it’s far more common for start-ups to ask for advice. Many build it into their business plans – and they budget for it too. Here in the UK, there is a Government programme designed to change the way we think about taking strategic advice to grow our businesses. The Growth Vouchers programmewants to test whether incentivising British businesses to take strategic advice makes a difference to their bottom line. We think it will – and we look forward to more British business taking advice and growing!
This post originally appeared on the Your Better Business blog.
San Sharma (@sansharma) is digital manager at Enterprise Nation. San also manages the Enterprise Nation Marketplace, which is the only place small business owners can find Government Growth Voucher advisers. Find out more at

Myths of Facebook Marketing

Myths of Facebook Marketing

Facebook with over one billion users “is” the default social network for nearly 50% of the people that use the internet on the planet. No other social media platform comes close to its global user acceptance.
The 4 Myths of Facebook Marketing
In fact, in the USA and many other English speaking countries it has almost reached saturation point with growth flat-lining or even declining.
It is changing how we communicate. Email is discarded in favor of a private message on Facebook. Forget sending your teenager an email, just “Facebook” them and you have a better chance of them receiving the message as often their email accounts go unchecked or un-monitored for days or weeks.
Facebook has become the private bulletin board for family and friends as updates, holiday, event and party images are shared to the  private communities that have formed around social connections and familial relationships.
Talk to a brand about social media marketing and instantly it is a discussion about how do you gain Facebook “likes”, pass the magic 1,000 barrier or build a Facebook app.
Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are like the neglected students at the back of the class with the plaintive cry of ”pick me, pick me”.

Facebook Posting Frenzy

What you may not have noticed is that there is an almost unseemly Facebook posting frenzy happening. People and brands are posting images of dogs, cats and aliens just to get attention..any attention!
Posting interesting content 3-4 times a day that people commented on, liked or shared was enough in the past to keep your updates appearing in the timelines of fans.
This is no longer optimal it seems because Facebook has changed the game. Posts or images that were shared or liked dozens of times are now struggling for visibility.
Why? Facebook adjusted its “Edgerank” calculation that determines what posts appear in Fan’s timelines. The organic Facebook marketing that we all enjoyed has been diminished by Facebook making sure that less of brands updates appear on the Facebook’s fan pages. Updates are now appearing in 15% or less of all timelines.
Twitter with its unfiltered stream is starting to look more attractive.

Myth One: Facebook will not change the game

If there is one thing that you must understand about social media is that it is evolving rapidly and expecting the rules to stay the same is an assumption you can not afford to embrace. Marketing Land mentioned and highlighted this changing of the rules and the reduction in organic Facebook marketing virality and reach. Some reports indicate that the reduction in the number or readers (views) of your pages updates  is in the range of 5-40%.
Keep in mind that for Twitter and Google+ that 100% of all updates are in the stream.
Facebook owns its network and it will continue to change the rules to suit its vision and commercial interests.

Myth Two: Facebook marketing will always be free

Facebook has gone public and the only way Facebook can monetize their platform is through advertising. The Google social network Google+ doesn’t need to place advertising in its stream or side bars because Google Adwords is their river of gold for the search giant.
Facebook will continue to look at ways of creating revenue that pays the bills because now they have shareholders to placate. Want to reach more fans?… then you will need to start to reach into your pocket and pay the piper.
Facebook’s next steps will include the monetization of the mobile platform Instagram that they paid $1 billion for. Mobile ads are the next frontier.

Myth Three. You own your Facebook account

The reality is that you are just a renting tenant on Facebook and you are there under their rules, terms and conditions.
Break the rules and you pay the price. Recently the pop culture blog and website “The Cool Hunter” had its Facebook page with 700,000 fans shutdown. This was due to “copyright issues” according to Facebook.
The challenge for brands that are heavily Facebook centric for their social media marketing is that an unexpected “shutdown” can leave a severe dent in traffic to your websites. The Cool Hunter saw a drop in traffic of over 10% when its  Facebook page was shuttered.
Just keep in mind that Facebook doesn’t have a call center for handling complaints. The lights are on but no customer service folk are at home.

Myth Four. You own and control your content on Facebook

Facebook is the repository for most of the world’s photos with 300 million photos being uploaded every day. It is the largest photo site in the world by far. This content is not yours according to Facebook’s T’s & C’s. Despite that, people treat Facebook like a hard disk backup for their images, videos and content.
Make sure that your photos and content is organised and saved somewhere else in case you suffer the same fate as The Cool Hunter”.

The Solutions:

So should you stop using Facebook for your marketing? Is social media marketing doomed? The answer is that social media will continue to offer a powerful and crowd-sourced means to market your brand but Facebook’s changes just brings us back to basics of taking control of your online assets.
Here are 4 tactics that will ensure that you are investing the time, effort and resources in the digital assets that you own and control.

#1. Create and post content to domains you own

These include your your blog, website and online store. You bought the domains and they are under your direct ownership, so make sure that the majority of your content including any multi-media is posted there. Building online assets is vital in a web focused world.

#2. Build email lists

Email may not be as sexy and as cool as social media but it offers one distinct advantage. You own your list. So make it easy people to subscribe to your blog or website via email. It is a digital asset that is often undervalued,  so concentrate on continuing to build that subscriber base.

#3. Invest in optimizing your blog or website for search engines

What a lot of people don’t realize is that 75% of all clicks from search engines are from organic search results. That traffic is free.
So optimize your blog and website to make it easy for Google to index your content. Also don’t forget to optimize your social media accounts for search engines by including keywords in descriptions, tags and categories. (amongst other SEO friendly tactics)

#4. Build followers and tribes on other social media channels

Other social networks offer great alternate opportunities for driving followers and traffic to your website. Twitter’s potential is often underestimated and new emerging platforms such as Pinterest are rapidly being recognized as vital social media networks that provide portals and links to your online properties.

 What About You?

Is your social media marketing Facebook centric? Have you got a plan B?
What other social networks drive traffic to your blog? Is SEO and search engine friendly tactics part of your digital marketing strategy?
How is your email marketing going?


Contact Tony Park, the Business Gardener for a plan to assist your business eMarketing stratgy.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Grow your small business with these marketing tactics

Grow your small business with these marketing tactics.


If you don’t feel up to speed with these marketing methods, here’s a quick guide to help you get started:
Email Marketing
It’s a tried and true marketing channel – but how can you cut through the inbox clutter, and increase the likelihood that your email will get opened and acted upon?
1. Test your email content. Use different subject lines, try a few different calls to action and measure what works best – then switch to the higher performing version and introduce another test. Rinse and repeat!
2. Spell out how your business, product or service will make an impact on the reader’s day. How do you solve an urgent problem in their life? It’s even more powerful if you can help readers make an emotional connection to your solution, eg they will be happier, less stressed or have more time to spend with their family.
3. Personalise! Make your email marketing more effective by tailoring the content to your reader’s preferences and behaviours. Certain email apps can pull customer data from your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to make this easy and seamless.
4. Mobile Friendly? More and more of your customers are reading emails on their smartphones or tablets. Certain email apps like ExactTarget Marketing Cloud provide mobile-optimised email templates, and allow you to preview how that email will appear on mobile devices vs desktops.
5. Reality check. Would you click on it? Or respond to it? Be honest with yourself – if it’s too long, or the next step isn’t clear, then start again with a new draft.
Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest… Businesses of all sizes struggle to make effective use of social media channels, and it can be daunting for SMEs – but your customers are on there, so it could represent a fantastic opportunity for your business.
1. Start with a plan. Outline your goals and business objectives, so you clearly understand what you want to achieve. Then work out how to measure progress towards those goals – don’t waste time tracking numbers you don’t care about.
2. Next – find your audience. Define exactly who you want to reach – they’re probably similar to your current customers. So ask a handful of your customers which social networks they use, and see what is – or isn’t – working for your competitors on their social profiles. You don’t have to be on every form of social media – start where the biggest potential audience is for your business.
3. Make sure it’s resourced. It’s unlikely that you need a dedicated person to manage your social media presence – but clearly identify who owns this in your business, and ensure they have the right skills to post, monitor, manage and respond.
4. Finally, don’t forget that social media is also a customer service channel – be ready to address all feedback, good and bad. Consider how a social customer service app like could help you centrally manage and track customer inquiries from social media.
Lead Management
Successfully converting leads to new customers is the lifeblood of most small businesses. Here are some best practices to help you increase prospects and focus on the right leads.
1. Define the perfect lead, so you can hone in on your target – what are their problems, their interests, their role in the buying process, their preferred method of communication? This way, everyone in sales and marketing (which can include everyone in your business!) knows what they’re looking for – and what to expect.
2. Keep your data clean! Make sure all the information on your leads and customers is kept in one place, like a CRM application. Everyone in your business should refer to – and update – that system, rather than keeping details on emails or worse, Post-It notes!
3. Share feedback. Remember that winning or losing a deal is not the final step. To keep improving lead management in your business, you should ask questions of your team and share insights. Why was the lead initially hesitant to buy? How did you overcome their hesitations? How many interactions does it usually take to convert a lead to a customer?
For step-by-step instructions on how you can put each of these tactics to use in your business, download our free eBook.
About the Author
Melissa Apte works at as a Senior Marketing Manager, where she gets to combine her passions for marketing, small business and technology

Monday, 24 February 2014

Are you a problem solving organisation ?

 Are you a problem solving organisation ?

You should look at your business as a problem-solving organization. 

All businesses thrive because they solve problems for consumers — and learn how to profit from it.

Bill Gates reached success with Microsoft because he figured out ways to fix problems. 

Facebook has solved the problem of global communication by making each person’s world a bit smaller. 

People flocked to Oprah Winfrey’s show because they believed she could provide advice for some of their life challenges.
Everyone has some kind of problem that’s waiting to be solved. 
Companies are struggling to stay in business, families are losing their homes, and too many people are out of work. 
As a company and as an employee, you should not be discouraged by the state of the economy – you should look for opportunities.
Become an innovative leader who helps guide your company through the country’s economic struggles. 
  • What can you do to improve the situation for a family that is struggling financially? 
  • What services can you provide for Australians on lower budgets?
  •  Look to solve problems on a global scale with a targeted approach, creating innovative ways to reach out to your customers and meet their needs.

The more problems you solve for more people, the more successful your organisation will be. 

Whether you are a business owner or an employee, you should aim to find new solutions to problems everyday. 

What problems does your business seek to solve, and are you being held accountable for solving them? 

As an employee, how can you start solving more problems for your company?

Successful business boils down to holding yourself accountable. 

You must encourage your team to refocus on your fundamental principles and goals, seeking new and specific problems and developing targeted plans to solve them.

Here are three key tips that will help keep your company focused on problem solving.

1.    Always talk about your clients in terms of solving their problems. This keeps you in the right mindset to effectively meet your customers’ needs. Become the solution to their problems.

2.    Never start your business meeting by discussing efforts to make more money. Your primary goal should be to solve your customers’ problems, and profit should come as a result.

3.    Always think about how you can solve more problems for more people. You should always be seeking opportunities for growth, and the best way to expand your business is to find creative solutions to pressing problems.

Basic marketing - focus on the customer needs and wants and how you can satisfy them.

Tony Park
Business Gardener. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Mentor can help you to create your future.

A Mentor could help you create your future 

From Mark Zuckerberg to Tony Robbins, some of the most successful people in all forms of business have credited part of their success to having a great mentor.
Mentors are not always well known people who work in the same field as the people they are mentoring. They can be family members or others who serve as moral and character guides. 
Before you look for a mentor, consider the following.


Before you consider looking for a mentor, you have to visualize your future. Where do you see yourself down the road in five, 10, or 15 years? What kind of work are you doing? What kind of a person have you become? Realize that every worthwhile accomplishment has started out as a dream in someone’s mind. After you have your future goals fixed in your mind, ask yourself who would be the best person to serve as your guide on your journey? What kind of help would be of most benefit to you? Is it technical knowledge, business acumen, or personal guidance? A mentor can serve all these purposes, but usually one is predominant.


Before moving on to what you think your mentor needs to know, think of the kind of person he or she needs to be. Do you have respect for them as a person apart from what they know? Would you be pleased to have them as part of your family? If the answer to these questions is no, look elsewhere. Even though they may be highly knowledgeable, intelligent and technically brilliant, your subconscious may have a hard time accepting any advice or ideas that come from them. A good mentor should always leave you feeling positive and inspired.


In order to grow, we need to make our own decisions and mistakes. A good mentor will allow us to do both. He or she will never tell us what we should or need to do. Instead they will offer and share ideas based on their own experiences. They will freely offer what has or hasn’t worked for them and leave it up to you as to whether you take their advice. Take from them what is valuable to you and leave the rest.


In order for feedback to be worthy from anyone, it must be honest and forthright. As well as giving you praise when your mentor thinks you have done something well, it is equally important that they challenge and encourage you to accomplish more when you are struggling. A good mentor does not get upset or angry when you don’t follow their advice. They are not ego driven and don’t see your success or failure as a direct reflection on their mentoring skills. They accept and know that, like themselves, you are your totally responsible for your own success and failure in life.


Effective mentors are people who have a record of service to their community, organizations or groups they belong to. They see beyond their own needs and have a desire to make their community and the world a better place to live. While others recognize them for their success, they don’t bring this up, and if asked about it, will give credit to others. Others will know them for their unselfishness and desire to give back.
Tony Park at the Business Gardener can assist you to create your future. I have many experiences across a number of industry sectors, had many positive experiences and also a large number of failures that I can share.
Contact me at to see what we can do together for you.