Archives for March 2012

Five Ways to Spice Up Your Email Marketing Strategy

A guest post by Samantha Peters

Română: Emeil

Română: Emeil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spam is the defining nuisance of online marketing – a mediocre sales gimmick nearly as old as the web itself. Indeed, junk email makes the job of small businesses genuinely wanting to reach out to current and potential customers via this common communications tool that much harder. In order to keep your marketing emails from heading anywhere other than into the trash bin or from destroying your attempts at reputation management, they need to be spiced up a little bit. To do that, adhere to the following:


Your subject line is like the opening sentence of a book. If it’s enticing and interesting, people will want to read on. If it’s dull and repetitive, most folks will pass on reading further. In roughly seven words or less, define the point of your email in the most excitable way possible.


That doesn’t mean that all you need to do is CAPITALIZE EVERY LETTER or throw in sales words like “Free” and “Deal” into your subject. In fact, emails that contain such writing and language usually never make it past spam filters. But even when they make it to an inbox, most people don’t give these cliché phrased emails a second glance. Skip on sales cliches, opt instead for original language.


Whether in the subject or when addressing the recipient, use their name whenever possible. If you’re a laid back sort of enterprise, then stick to the first name. If you’re no-nonsense, use the appropriate Mr., Mrs.,Ms., or Dr. designation. Using the full name, however, stinks of automation and data mining, so personalize with this in mind. Proper personalization goes a long way as far as increasing the chances of an email being opened.


Too often companies send mass-emails from an address such as “” or some other impersonal entity. Whilea marketing firm may advise you against using your personal name for these emails, a real name of any kind is sure to lead to more opens, reads, and results. You will come across as the human you really are – and what’s wrong with that?


When someone participates in a survey or poll you’ve provided via email, follow-up with a phone call or additional email, personally thanking that individual for taking time out of their day to help you help them. Follow with an itemized list of ways in which customer participation in surveys and polls improves your business practices and makes for a better product or service for them.

The effectiveness of email marketing may seem moot in the age of social media. On top of that, years of relentless spam in our inboxes has resulted in a most cynical outlook on email marketing. But with some creative wording, a little respect, and the ability to reach out to those who took the time to respond, you’re sure to spice up an otherwise unwanted email in a customer inbox.

This Guest Post is written by Samantha Peters, an avid blogger who enjoys writing about new marketing tactics and new developments in email marketing strateg

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Co-working and networking in Westgate.

MargateJelly is a fairly new event (Number 2 is on the 28th March at the Westgate Pavilion). The idea is to get together with likeminded people for a change of scene, to chat, exchange help and advice, work together and who knows, maybe come up with a new idea you can collaborate on.

It tends to work best for freelancers, home workers and people running small businesses, who may feel they miss the corporate office environment and want a change of scenery.

We are running a free Marketing surgery at this event and there are more things planned. Running from 10am to 2pm – you should come and experience 4 hours of co-working, collaborating, learning and above all fun.

People came away from the first event having used MargateJelly to hold meetings, find solutions to problems and generally network with other business.

The event is £3 to cover the cost of the venue and that is paid direct to them on the door. Why not book on now – visit or book direct via Eventbrite –

Food and drinks are available from the venue as is free WIFI

We look forward to seeing you!

Pinterest changes Terms and Conditions

Pinterest users should have received an email this weekend stating that as of April 6th there will be changes to their terms and conditions. It’s good to see that they’re listening to users, so what’s changed?

Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.

Fantastic news for photographers and designers out there who were worried that they were giving up their copyright by posting on Pinterest, and worried about others pinning their work on there. A definite step in the right direction to the people worrying about copyright.

We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.

I’ve been reading a bit about this in the last week or so, and I know a lot of people have been worried about the pro anorexia / self harm type posts on there, so it’s good that Pinterest are going to take a stand on this. I do wonder how easy it will be to police though.

We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.

Easier reporting tools is good, but I can’t see the ‘anti Pinterest’ lobby giving up on the copyright issue any time soon, so I still think there needs to be further thought on this one.

Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

Interesting… Nice to see there’s an API coming, but of most interest to me is the private Pinboards. For a website that bills itself as somewhere to share, I wonder how people will use private boards? They may come in useful for web designers to share graphics with their clients I guess, and for private groups to share info, but Pinterest doesn’t strike me (as yet) as being a collaborative tool, so I’ll be watching to see how this one pans out.

So, not massive changes, but a welcome step in the right direction as far as copyright goes – has the change of T&Cs encouraged you to give Pinterest a go?

Pinterest – stop adding me to your boards people, it’s SPAM!

First it was people adding me to their groups on Facebook.

Now it’s people adding me to their collaborative boards on Pinterest.


It’s nothing short of spam.

If you want me to help you build a board on Pinterest then ask me.

I don’t want to be part of your ‘fab people posting on Pinterest’ board. I don’t care about your ‘people who do well on Empire Avenue’ board.

Adding me to your boards is disrespectful, spammy and downright unprofessional.

I’m at a loss to think why people do it. I’m not going to post anything of interest me, trust me; all I’m going to do is remove myself as fast as possible.

I can only presume that you think that you’ll get lots of followers to your board because people following me on Pinterest will follow your board.

If that’s the case, I’d suggest you make more interesting boards.

Whether you do or not, stop adding me to them – all you’re doing is making me angry, and that’s not helping your cause at all.


Networking for women in Margate Kent

This is a blog post for a training excercise I am running today 🙂

Do you run a business in Margate or Kent?

Are you a woman?

Are you looking for women’s networking groups in Margate?

Then you need 1230 TWC!

If you need more business, more contacts, support, a cheery face, advice, expertise and to connect with other savvy business women – you’re in the right place!

The 1230 TWC Margate meetings are on the 4th Thursday of each month.  Please share this information with all your contacts, even if they’re not in Margate – you never know who knows who!

1230 TWC is an effective, dynamic network of meetings and events where like-minded business women meet to inspire, share experiences, strengthen and grow their businesses through building trusted business relationships.

If you would like to network and market your business with other like-minded business women……

  • Learn new networking skills and make contacts to help your business grow……..
  • Discover the secrets of business success from other entrepreneurs……
  • When you join 1230, you will become a member of the whole organisation with far reaching networking opportunities.
  • Have your 1 minute talk prepared (please ask if you’d like a copy of the 1230 TWC 1 minute talk guideline).
  • Let your business colleagues and friends know about 1230 The Women’s Company, that way not only do you broaden their networking circle but yours too and remember it is not just the person you meet and speak to at a meeting – it is also who is in their network.
  • If you are already a 1230 TWC member and would like to give a presentation to the group or display your products or literature, please contact us in advance so that we can arrange a suitable date for you.

The lunch-time meetings are relaxed, informal and productive with the 1230 TWC Host Lindsay Panteli updating those present with news; everyone has the opportunity to deliver a one-minute presentation on their business.

Meetings always include a delicious lunch!

If you’d like to come along as a guest, drop me a line to – I look forwardto meeting you there!

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Do you own a Facebook Business Page? Here’s what you should do now!

The new Facebook Timeline layout is coming to Business Pages on March 30th, whether we like it or not (I do, actually, but I know lots of people aren’t happy about it. I say, as always, Facebook costs us nothing and allows us to promote our businesses – their rules 🙂 ).
If you’re wondering how it will affect you, here are a few tips.
Get yourself a timeline picture
The new layout makes a feature of one big image at the top of the page. The optimal size for this is 850×315 pixels, so have a look through your promotional images and see if you have one that is either that size or can be resized. As a last resort you can use a different sized pic, but you’ll have to crop it and it may not look as good.
Ideally, have a timeline picture created featuring your feaures and benefits, services and products, you get the picture 🙂
Change your profile picture
The profile picture on Business Pages has changed too, so if you were making the most of the size allowed before the change, it probably won’t look as good now. You need to rethink I’m afraid.
Profile pictures can be 200 pixels wide, but the thumbnail will appear as a 125×125 image, so bear that in mind. If your profile picture is a pic of you, you’ll probably be OK, but if it’s a logo or a specially designed picture, chances are you’ll have to redo it for it to look good – mine looked awful when I moved to the new timeline layout!
Don’t panic about your custom tabs
Your custom tabs are still there, they’re just shown in a different way. I know lots of people are saying that Facebook Timeline has ruined custom tabs (I linked to such an article last week) but to be honest, it’s not that big of a deal.   Bearing in mind that an overwhelming majority of your ‘Likers’ never even saw your tabs and read your updates in their news stream, it’s not a great loss for most businesses.
Keep posting great content
The one thing you can do to keep your Facebook page in people’s minds is keep on posting great content. Vary your content between statements, questions, polls, videos, external links and more – remember not to be just ‘me, me, me’ and post things that are of interest to your target audience. Encourage your readers to interact with your page and share your items – the more people comment and share, the more potential new visitors you get.
A lot of people are panicking about the new Timeline payout, and a lot of ‘experts’ are jumping on the ‘you need our £500 service to revamp your page’ line of sales. You don’t.
The most you may need is a timeline sized cover picture, and if you can’t do that yourself, you can ask your graphic or web designer, or take advantage of today’s special offer for just £30.
Most importantly of all DON’T PANIC! Your Facebook Business page isn’t going to die a death because of the new layout, and within a few weeks we’ll all have forgotten what it looked like before… until the next change of course 😉
Happy Facebooking
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Stuck for things to blog about?

We’ve all done it; thought “I really must write a blog today”, opened up our browser, and then spent 20 minutes trying to think of a catchy headline, something interesting to say, or even ANYTHING to say!
I get it too, and I write blog posts for a multitude of clients in all sorts of industries.
So I thought I’d share with you a few tactics I use when my blogging mojo has got up and gone 🙂
  •  Read the online news. Whether you’re a tabloid fan or a high brow browser, reading what’s happening in the world today can often spark off ideas that can be related to your business. Whether it’s an opinion piece or something related to a product or service you sell, topical news items make great blog posts.

  • Read your trade news. By the same token, having a look through a trade publication or trade news website can often give inspiration. Maybe a new survey has come out that you can talk about, some outlandish stats, or a new way of thinking about your area of expertise? All make great blog posts that will be of interest to your target market.

  • Browse your competitors. There’s always a sharp intake of breath when I come out with this one in training workshops, but let’s face it, they’ll be doing it to you! See what your competitors are writing about – can you approach it with a different angle? No-one has ever said that two companies can’t write about similar things, and of course yours will be much better, won’t it? 😉

  • Have a break. If it’s really not working, stop. Get off the computer if you can, go make a cup of coffee, walk to the shop, run round the garden or simply sit in an armchair and forget about it for half an hour. Clearing your mind allows you to stop focusing on the ‘Bloggers’ Block’ and some of my best ideas come to me while I’m ignoring the blog posts I have to write.

  • Ask for a guest blog post. Get someone else to do the hard work and get some of the credit. Guest posts are great when you’ve run out of time, can’t think of anything to write, or just want a different voice on your blog. They also bring in new traffic and readers, and inspire loyalty from the person who’s blog you have promoted.

  • Look in your ‘Swipe file’. You don’t have a swipe file? Well, you should! A swipe file features headlines you think of or see elsewhere and like, blogs you want to refer to, ideas that are half finished, and more. Start yours now (more about swipe files in next Monday’s blogging newsletter!)
There’s always something to write about, but it really is hard work at times to stop your blog from becoming just a self promotional ‘me, me, me’ medium, when it should be entertaining, informative and maybe even educational, if you want it to build your brand and credibility.
If you need some help with your Business Blogging, then take a look at my Bonkers Blogging Offer; it’s sure to take some of the pressure off and help your blog build into something that supports and promotes your business naturally.
Until Wednesday when we’re going to talk about the new Facebook Timeline and what it means for business pages,
Happy Blogging
PS: You could also check out our 30 Day Blogging Challenge ebook if you’re stuck for blogging ideas – there are loads in there and it’s a style I follow myself!
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Why I am heading home, and not to Business 2012

Guest blog post written by Nikki Hesford, MD of the Miss Fit group of brands and business speaker.

There is certainly something ironic about a business exhibition that is created to show us all how to run a business, failing so miserably in the basic lessons of running one itself. School boy errors – lots of them, which is not surprising when the MD is little more than one himself. Now I am in no position to be ‘ageist’ – I had my son at 17, bought my house at 19 and started in business at 22. I am still only 26. However, I will also be the first to admit that in the first year or so of running my business, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow half of the time.

One thing I am learning as I get older myself, is that you begin to pay more attention to detail and you have a better understanding of doing things competently – for example you start moving the sofa to hoover under it, rather than just going around it, you start rinsing the plates before you put them in the dishwasher, you go on holiday packing plasters, safety pins and washing powder…. Under the age of 25 everything is hap-hazard, with an ‘it’ll do’ mentality – a sentiment strongly resonated at Business 2012.

I was signed up to Business 2012 last summer as a keynote speaker, and we agreed the terms of me coming to the show. To cut a long story short, I was told the person who had agreed my contract (the Events Manager) didn’t have the authority to agree a contract with me and they couldn’t honour it. One of the terms was that I was a speaker in the main hall, as it would not be worth my while taking two days from home and travelling to London to speak to an audience of fifty – I was told this simply wasn’t possible, that the main arena was for speakers who had paid substantial sums of money to be there. I was told I would have Hall12 for 200 people. Not entirely satisfied, I couldn’t be bothered arguing and agreed to the amendments as I was looking forward to the show and I had publicised my attendance.

On the morning of Sunday, and slightly irked that I had missed the Paddy’s Day pub celebrations to get the train down as well as my son on Mothers Day – I tuned in to Twitter to read numerous ‘Don’t bother coming down here yet, its absolute chaos’ tweets.

I arrived at the o2 (I have never been before) and I’m looking around for the Business2012 logo and a sign that says ‘This Way’ as per all other shows I’ve spoken at. There was none, so I headed towards a queue (“Britishness” – to see a queue and get in it without knowing what it is for). To cut another long story short, nobody knew where I should be, where I should go or how to get me through security, I finally got in and they didn’t have a badge for me so I was given a silver wristband.

My speaking slot should have been 12.45 but it was actually revised for 1.15pm – when I got there, a handful of people had arrived, but none of them had come to see me. I don’t know who they were expecting but it wasn’t Nikki Hesford. It turns out the online planner, where many people had pre-arranged their visit had advised everybody that I would be speaking at 2.45pm. But the small A5 booklet clearly said that I was speaking at 12.45pm. Confused? Me too. I did the best job I could, and as I was leaving the room a queue of people ask me where I am going as they had come to see me – in their hand is the A4 magazine, which says I am speaking at 2.15!

So it’s now 2pm ish, I can’t be bothered going all the way home to come all the way back for the drinks and Richard Branson gig, and I don’t fancy loitering for three hours freezing my backside off, so I’m told there is a coffee/rest room for VIP Elite/Speakers to use. I head off looking for it, I find it, but of course I don’t have a pass to get in. So as a last resort, I decide to seat myself in the Indigo lounge and hear Nigel Botterill speak, thus comfying myself in readiness for the main man.

Nigel, who I haven’t met, but follows me on Twitter (he probably won’t after he reads this) started off as a very good speaker and I was impressed – he was likeable, energetic, and made a few good points. Then came the hard sell. I have spent £343,000 on learning about business” and “If I wanted to learn to play the piano, I wouldn’t sit myself down and try and work it out for myself, I’d get a teacher” (you can see where this is heading…?) “Buy a mentoring package with Nigel, owner of seven different million pound businesses ONLY £1000 (I can’t remember the exact price to be honest) if you book it IN THE NEXT TWENTY MINUTES”.

Before I knew it, booking forms were being passed down my row of seats, and we were told ‘this price is only valid for 20 minutes, book it now”.

Well I was a little shocked. I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about hard selling a heavily discounted £1000 product with a twenty minute expiration date to impressionable wide-eyed small business owners at a business show? And then I start wondering to myself, exactly what IS a “million pound business”? Is it a million pound turnover? Profit? Or just a valuation? Well one of Nigel’s million-pound businesses (which is actually his wife’s but we’ll move swiftly on…..) ‘My Mag’ has told 1200 packages since 2003, at £2,397 so assuming everyone paid full commercial rate (does anybody actually do that?) that’s £350,000 turnover a year. If that makes you a million pound business, then I’m one too! Yippee! (Only two of the 7 ‘million pound’ businesses were registered and the turnover was too low to require declaring it. However the abbreviated accounts were interesting, as Mr Botterill claims to have been taking home £20,000 a month in 2004 with N5 and that it was wonderful – but the 2004 accounts show a formally insolvent position. (Perhaps it was insolvent because the MD was taking a £20,000 a month salary?)

So we move on, Richard Branson begins his session and he is delightful and funny and inspiring – the highlight of the day. He advises us ‘you can’t learn business in a school, you have to just do it, however small you start, you’ll learn as you go along”. Very good advice, I hope some of the people who had just parted with £1,000 were listening.

Image representing Richard Branson as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

We proceed to the ‘VIP Elite’ drinks reception, and the entrance is so chaotic I am starting to feel as though I’m on the Titanic and I’m queuing for the last remaining lifeboat. Sir Richard is ushered in, people are calling his name, whistling, shouting – I need a reality check, this is a business event with business professionals? Anyone would think I was outside Old Trafford with David Beckham walking past.

I go into the reception, everyone has been given a piece of paper to get one drink. I don’t have one of these, I don’t even had a badge or a pass yet, but thankfully the barman gives me a glass of wine anyway – because by this point I think I must look like I need it. Now this event was advertised as a drinks reception with Richard Branson, a chance to network, complimentary drinks…. Apparently people have paid a lot of money to be there.

The area where I’m sat suddenly became quite empty, and it became apparent that everyone had fled to the third floor – I wasn’t sure why, but I’m British and I saw a queue so I got in it. I ask the chap next to me what I’m queuing for and he tells me ‘a photo with Richard Branson’, at which point I leave the queue. I don’t want a photo; I want a bloody glass of wine. It’s now about 8.30pm, I haven’t seen Richard Branson, I can’t get a drink, it’s pitch black in the venue and I decide to sack it off and go home. As I am leaving, I see Richard Branson being herded between hoards of people for photographs like a prize pony at farmers market and he doesn’t look entirely comfortable with it and neither am I, and I leave.

I was due to return to Business 2012 again today as a speaker, and although the consensus is that the organisation has much improved overnight and lessons have been learned, I simply cannot muster the enthusiasm to loiter around with my bags (I have to check out at 10am) in the freezing cold, by myself, all day until my slot at 4.30pm, which will inevitably run late, and will inevitably have nobody in it as everyone stampedes to the Indigo lounge to bagsy a seat for James Caan at 5.25pm. Another major faux pas on behalf of the organisers as this hall is miles away – visitors can see the celebrity speakers without having to come within 100 meters of an exhibitor. Bet the exhibitors love that.

Now I should add, that I am impressed by Vishal Misal’s ambition and determination to pull this off, and what he has achieved is actually quite phenomenal – the footfall was very good, they certainly attracted the crowds and secured some brilliant names, but the problems are in the attention to detail which comes with experience and maturity. You simply cannot hold an event of this magnitude by ‘winging it’ – I suspect in his hap-hazard approach he hasn’t considered breach of contract, (has a solicitor even been within ten feet of a Business2012 contract?) and the potential for disappointed exhibitors and purchasers of VIP passes to make a claim for a mis-sold product. I do hope he has plenty of cash reserves, just in case….

I apologise to anybody who had hoped to see me speak, but having already lost 36 hours of my life that I’ll never get back, and leaving an 8 year old back up north and a very large pile of things that need doing in the office, I deduced that it was time to go home and thus I write this post to you on a wonderful Virgin Pendolino – cheers Sir Richard Branson!

Comments are welcome, please keep it clean 🙂 You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @NikkiHesford

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Malware on your WordPress site? Here’s how to fix it!

At the beginning of 2012 I was unlucky enough to have quite a few Wordpres sites hacked and infected with Malware. This meant that anyone visiting them was seeing a rather nasty message telling them that my sites shouldn’t be accessed and could infect the users computer. Not nice… not nice at all.

After 2 weeks of trying to sort this out with my hosts, I turned to Twitter for help. And Twitter users were very helpful. Lots of people pointed me to tutorials on how to fix it myself, which would have been great had I understood any of them (my lack of knowledge not bad tutorials I hasten to add!)

What I wanted was someone who could help me, not charge me the earth, and get my sites up and running again.

In came my knight on a white steed, Keiron Skillett from BetterWebSpace – within an hour we’d chatted on Skype, sorted out what the issue was, and he set about fixing it. 3 hours later it was sorted, and within a couple of days the warnings had disappeared. I didn’t have to mortgage my house to fix it, there was no drama, he took over and sorted it, leaving me free to run my business.

Of course, you may not want to pay someone to sort it for you (although I would hazard a guess that the money you’re losing by having a hacked website is much less than Keiron would charge to fix it), in which case, here is a great tutorial on how to fix it yourself.

Once you’re fixed, you’ll want to make sure your WordPress install is secure and hopefully unhackable – Blogmistress Babs Saul has some great posts on this here: Securing WordPress.

It’s a fact of life that there are nasty people out there exploiting every hole they can in your WordPress security, but with the help of Keiron (on Twitter at @Keiron

) and the tips from Babs, you’ll be well on your way to fixing that malware issue and making sure it doesn’t happen again.


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So Pinterest is all about housewives pinning recipes is it? Err.. no…

When my online friend Lilach Bullock told me she was appearing on Radio 5 Live to talk about social media and in particular Pinterest, I was obviously looking forward to hearing what would be said.

Tuning in, I was surprised to hear the presenters talking about how Pinterest is ‘women focused’, and ‘full of crafters’ and not giving Lilach a chance to refute that.

See, it’s just not true.

I know that Pinterest has a bit of a reputation for being populated by women posting pictures of kittens, motivational quotes, recipes and not much else, but it’s evolved beyond that, especially in the UK.

There’s a great infographic over at Web Analytics World that compares Pinterest use in the UK and the US, and if you’re looking at Pinterest from a business point of view it makes really interesting reading. Pop over and have a look, but I’ve summarised some of the points below:

  • UK users of Pinterest earn more than US users, with 29% of them in the highest esrners bracket compared with just 3% of users in the US.
  • Pinterest in the UK is frequented more by men than women. 56% of UK users are male, compared with just 17% in the US.
  • UK audiences are posting more business pins. Topics such as SEO and Marketing, Blogging, Venture Capital, Design and stats top the bill. In the US it’s very definitely dominated by crafts, gifts, interior design and home ideas, fashion and hobbies.

It sounds to me as if rather than do their research, Radio 5 lived tapped into the stereotype of US Pinterest users.

Of course, I wasn’t expecting an in depth discussion on the business use of Pinterest, but neither was I expecting to hear the same old same old spouted, and Pinterest sidelined as ‘addictive and fun’ rather than ‘useful and money generating’.

Lilach’s time was cut short as the programme was over-running, but I do question why 5 Live bothered inviting a Social Media Marketing Expert onto their program when they’d quite clearly categorised Pinterest as fluffy and not worth much interest beforehand.

I would have liked to hear them being told that if they want to see fluffy things then they can follow fluffy boards, but the power in Pinterest is with the follower, and you only see things on the boards you choose to follow. By following the right boards you can find all sorts of things that are most definitely NOT fluffy, very much business focused and definitely not just pictures of kittens; maybe 5 Live should have been following some of the right Pinterest boards, they’d have found some real UK stats.

In closing, I’ll remind everyone that radio presenters were saying similar things about Twitter just 4 or so years ago, and we all know what happened there…

Want to find out what Pinterest can do for you? See our Pinterest set up and management package!

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