Welcome to The blog of Dreamtheatre!

Founded by blog editor; Adam Wilkie. Follow this blog for social media, business and lifestyle advice (and the odd gripe!).

A business born in Glasgow.

Ship building, football, Irn Bru and SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

Inspiration and guest articles

Start-up stories, social media success and your daily dose of inspiration.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Market Your Boring Business to Awesomeness

Marketing your business aint an easy task folks… There are always obstacles; competition, cost implications, the economy, struggling marketplaces… The list is endless. If it was easy I’d be out of a god damn job! In fact, I’d have started a different type of business that would currently be making £squillions!

However, what really helps is if you have a sexy & exciting service or product to offer. Our human nature drives us towards these categories of business.

So what if you have a business where the product or service is boring as hell?

The problem with most marketing advice available to us is that it tends to use un-typical examples. It’s very difficult for the majority of small business to relate to case studies like Apple, Virgin or Domino’s Pizza; Case studies that seem to litter best-selling marketing books.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great lessons to be learned from these big-time companies; you can always down-scale an idea or strategy. However, if you own or work for a company that is ‘low-key’, and offers mundane products or services, the strategy might just not fit.

The good news is being boring doesn’t mean you can’t make huge profits, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and exciting with your marketing techniques. The idea people need to remove from their mind is that their marketing techniques must reflect their product or service. Fuck that! You’ll blend in with the rest of your market and get nowhere.

So let’s look at what can be done for all you supposedly boring businesses out there:

Is your business actually boring or do you just suck at explaining what it does?

First of all, if you’re business is making money then there is a market and they’re showing interest in it. Second of all, you chose your business for a reason. There was an opportunity to make money and a market ready to be captured – If this isn’t the case then we should be having a completely different conversation!

So if the second statement is true, show some of that enthusiasm that got you started in the first place and discuss the benefits of your products or services – But REALLY sell them. Maybe there’s some amazing story about why you decided to create the product you sell. I mean, if James Dyson can make vacuum cleaners sound exciting and sexy, well…

I’m tired of asking people about their business only to be met with a mumbled, un-enthusiastic response. Some of these people have had quite a cool business on the face of things, but after two minutes of explanation the zzz’s are floating out my mouth.

Enthusiasm, confidence and success are all attractive qualities. People also love great story tellers.

Get wild and crazy!

I recently sat beside a senior manager of the van leasing company Vanarama in a business seminar. Have you seen any of their adverts? If not then have a look:

So, this is kind of how the conversation went:

Me: “So what were you guys thinking with your new TV ad? It’s annoying as fuck, but it certainly sticks in my mind”
Vanarama Dude: “Well exactly. Name me another van leasing company in the UK”
Me: “ehhh….well….erm…”

I couldn’t think of one! Are you shitting me? I know I could probably lease one from Arnold Clark, and I’m sure some manufacturers like Ford have van specific showrooms. However, at the time I wasn’t sure. These were just thoughts; thoughts that were surrounded by that bloody tune in the Vanarama TV advert.

You see, it turns out they contracted the same advertising agency that created the Go Compare adverts with the fat, Welsh opera singer, and the approach they take is ‘be memorable at any cost’. That cost happens to be annoyance for some. However, let me ask you the same question I was asked: Name me another market comparison website without using Google - In my mind one of the only other’s is Compare the Market, and those guys use talking bloody Meerkats.

Both of these companies use memorable, craziness in order to hold your attention and stick in your mind. These adverts make very mundane companies seem fun, and current.

Now the lesson to be learned here isn’t that you should be annoying, or cheap and tacky to attract attention. It is simply to understand that a reliable tactic for promoting a boring business can be to create an advertising strategy that is focused on wild, fun and crazy in order to be memorable and provoke fun thoughts about company.

Another example to further explain this is when Sir Richard Branson abseiled from the top of the Palms Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, to promote Virgin America. What’s that got to do with the service? He-ith haw, but it drew attention; a lot of attention. This is one of those extreme examples I was discussing at the start, but it explains the theory well.

People like to be surrounded by fun people, even at work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Be interesting – Do interesting things

Although your service or product may be mundane, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround it with interesting stuff. That ‘stuff’ can be physical or the business itself and how it works.

There are countless opportunities here; You could:

  • Package your product in an interesting way that’s never been done, or is in itself fun.
  • Maybe all new clients receive a welcome pack that includes all sorts of cool things; possibly a story about your business journey, or a code to enter a client only section of your website that allows your clients to network… Have a think.
  • Your company could create its own foundation that supports a chosen charity.
  • You could host weekly advice surgeries for start-up businesses, passing on the experience you gained starting yours.
  • You could even create a fun office environment where all your staff sit on yoga balls instead of office chairs, or have full size chalkboard walls for staff thoughts and ideas. You just have to make sure to show this fun side of the business to the world through your website and social media.

Be honest

Far too many businesses try to create a false front, pretending to be something far bigger or revolutionary that they are. In reality they are a fairly small, normal business. I’ve been there; I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

In order to create this fa├žade, usually created out of embarrassment, companies use meaningless business buzzwords, which completely obscure what they really do. What these guys don’t realise though, is that these buzzwords are holding them back. A recent study showed that those buzzwords are costing companies millions because their own employees don’t even understand what they mean and how they relate to their business. So how the hell would a customer or potential client know?

Be clear and honest about your services. Trust is the most important factor in any sale, so brutal honesty can work.

Don’t be a people pleaser

I’m very interested in the phycology of productivity. I’ve read countless books and articles on the subject and love to study other people’s working day and how they manage it. It’s a safe bet that 90% of you are thinking ‘what a fucking weirdo, that sounds horrendous’. However, I bet some of you are currently thinking ‘me too!’

The point here is that many people will already be very interested in what your business has to offer, but some people will never be interested. This is fine, as long as you target the market that is willing to spend money on your product or services.

Taking a shotgun marketing approach is very inefficient, and also very archaic. We’ve entered an age where there are so many market research and targeting tools at our disposal that it baffles me why anyone would continue to spend huge sums of money advertising in national press. If the same money was spent on targeted marketing their ROI (return on investment) would be 1000x higher.

Your task here is to do your homework. Make sure your market research is bulletproof and you completely understand who your market is.

Put your own vanity of wanting everyone in the world to love your business to one side and remember that you’re in business to make money. When your business starts turning over tonnes of the Queen’s finest Sterling notes then it will quickly become interesting to a far larger audience.

So there you have it!

You can now go forth and implement some of these strategies.

On the other hand, you can continue doing what you’re doing and chuck a tonne of money at the type of advertising that has got you to where you are today. However, will this sustain the long term future of your business?

The clients you have now won’t be around forever. So I encourage you to adapt and become creative.

Too many businesses get lazy with their marketing and use the copycat approach of ‘what are our competitors doing?’ You will never stand out from the crowd and gain the market share you desire using this approach.

Turn up the volume of what makes your business different and never be afraid to stand out from the crowd. Forget about what your competitors are doing. It’s your job to place your business at the forefront of your market’s mind and be the maverick of your industry.

Thursday 22 May 2014

My Checklist for Increasing Online Sales

A common difficulty for online businesses is converting their marketing efforts and social engagement into sales. It’s fairly easy to portray your chosen brand image and increase your following (If you follow me, and/or have read my previous articles, hopefully my help has brought you to that position), but getting those followers to part with their cash, especially online, can be a complete bitch!

The first thing I’d say is it’s not easy… It really isn't! So if you’re struggling, don’t think you’re alone. It’s a lot easier to convert your online marketing efforts to offline sales believe it or not. A larger amount of trust in a relationship is required before someone will make the decision to buy from you online – which leads me nicely into the following rant:

‘Marketing in’ is not directly proportional to ‘sales out’ from the get go. I get serious fucking pains in my head with those who believe they should see an online sales increase after their first month of marketing. The reality is in your first few months* your target is to increase trust amongst your followers, and also to increase your amount of online followers**. Sales will be a product of this growth.

* Time period will change with industry and current company position.
**This is not specific to your social media following – This includes anyone who engages with your company online.

The list I’m about to present to you has been developed over a long period of time. I developed this checklist using my background knowledge of online marketing and trying shit out, which is how you really find things out; make mistakes and learn from them. Just be sure to come back stronger.

Luckily for you I’ve made the mistakes and done the tests. So you can now use the following checklist with a little more confidence. My advice is to run down the checklist and make sure you have each point covered in some way.

7 Point Checklist

           1.       Good Site Design
This is so fucking obvious, but so commonly ignored!

Would you buy from a site that’s been hacked together and barely looks legit? How long would you wait for a website to load before you left it to find another supplier of your desired product? On average people will wait 6 – 10 seconds for a page to load before they give-up.

So make sure your site is well designed, with good code backing it up in order to reduce page loading time. The customer’s journey from the home page to the checkout should be as smooth as a Ryan Gosling chat up line.

           2.       High Google Ranking
Spend time on your site’s SEO. Optimise your keywords and meta-tags.

The fact of the matter is that people are god damn lazy… and I fully include myself in this category! It’s human nature. There are certain things people will work hard for, but finding a site on Google isn’t one of them. The top ranked sites on Google will always perform better.

           3.       Links Everywhere
Make sure people can access your site from as many places as is sensible. That includes the social media content you post and emails you send.

           4.       Good Social Media Practice
I aint going to bore you with the ins and outs of good social media practice – I have plenty of articles related to that. However, two very important points to highlight are:

1.       Remove ‘buying’ references from your content and focus on the BENEFITS of your product(s).
2.       Post a shit-tonne of good images of your products. People like to see what they are buying. So show your product from many angles, and in action etc.

           5.       Direct Engagement on Social Media
This is ‘good social media practice’, but it deserves its own point.

Like the traditional salesman would roam door to door harvesting sales, you need to roam your online following to harvest TRUST; develop one-to-one relationships. The important thing is that you don’t try to close the sale right away. As I said in the beginning, this will come.

           6.       Paid Ads
If you think you can achieve huge online sales without any paid advertising then you’re a fool. Every company should have a marketing budget.

Paid aids will help spread the word about your company and product, and will help increase your online following. Once you’ve captured these followers all marketing is free – you are then able to build your relationship.

           7.       Email Marketing
Email marketing kind of fell on its arse for a while there, mainly due to the amount of sleazy spam mail being circulated. However, it’s on the ascendency once more.

A well written (and by that I mean not sleazy sales talk) email can feel a lot more personal to a potential customer and fast track the journey of trust.

Spend some time developing as large an email list as you can. You can have subscribe widgets on your website and social media, add previous customers etc. This is an on-going process.

So there you have it; my very own ‘seven steps to selling success’. Go hither and increase your online sales, but don’t forget about me! I’d love to hear how you get on if you choose to follow my advice. So come and join me on any of my SM platforms.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Facebook Engagement Life Savers!

As you will all have noticed our Facebook post reach has fallen off the edge of a cliff… A fuckin’ big cliff! A post that used to reach 500 now only reaches 75, which has a knock on effect to our engagement stats. I’m also sure you know that this is no accident.

Facebook have re-developed their post ranking algorithm (similar to Google ranking) in a bid to drive us all towards paid advertising; Facebook Ads, promoted posts etc. They have made it a lot harder for marketers to gain organic success in order to swell the Facebook bank balance (significantly), but as much as I’m verbally ‘throwing the toys out the pram’ – who gives a shit! Just produce better content! Facebook is a business, and businesses exist to make money. Do they not?

You see, as much as Facebook are making it harder to gain a high organic reach they are also rewarding good content and good pages. So this gives you all an opportunity to leave a large chunk of your competition in the dust. That is unless your competition is reading this article…

So now we all know the problem challenge, let me give you the solution; the key to winning the battle of reach & engagement c2014.

Improve Post Reach

I have a lot of tips to provide you here, so I’m gonna cut out the bullshit and get right to it!

In essence, if you can increase engagement on your page then you’ll win this battle of organic reach, and I’m going to show you how to increase engagement further on. First however, there are a few things you can do that will fall favourably with Facebook’s new algorithm:

        1.     The ‘Get Notifications Tab’
Encourage your fans to select ‘Get Notifications’ and they will see everything you post no matter what.

Be humble about it though. Don’t instruct them to do it. Offer it as a solution:

“Facebook’s new ranking algorithm means you might not be seeing all of my posts L. So if you’d like to see them all, and be part of our continual conversation, then select ‘Get Notifications’ as shown here’.

        2.     Link to Quality Content
Facebook are now showing more links in the News Feed. This is one of the biggest changes to their algorithm. So if all you do is post photos then stop right now and mix it up with more links. However, make sure the site you are linking to is a good quality, reputable site. Facebook will automatically grab the meta data (photo, summary text) and display this. Better quality is rewarded with a high news feed rank.

        3.     Don’t Spam
Facebook want to cut out Pages that are producing 'spam posts'. So to do this they are cracking down on what they call "Like Baiting" - You know those posts that are explicitly aimed at getting people to interact with a post? Posts like “Click like if you love long lies”, or “Share this post if you like pizza; comment if you prefer lasagne”? I'm sure we agree that these posts are useless anyway.

Please don't confuse this with the good practice of including specific calls to action. For instance, asking your fans to answer your question in the comments section, or asking them to share your post with people who would benefit from it.

So how can you avoid being targeted?

1. Make sure your posts are relevant.
2. Don't create posts that have the sole purpose of garnering likes, shares or comments.
3. Avoid explicitly asking your fans to 'Like this post' or 'Share this post'. Give them a reason to do these.

        4.     Tag Another Page
Not only will this increase the chances of that page engaging with your post, but all of their fans will see your post too!

        5.     Boost Your Post
I know I’m trying to tell you how to increase post reach without paying, but at the end of the day boosting/promoting a post every now and again will increase engagement on your page. This in turn will shoot you up the News Feed ranks.

You don’t have to spend much. A £10 boost could help you reach ~10000 people, which could be pretty damn good for your business. Remember that every business should put a marketing budget aside. Do you?

Note that when you are boosting/promoting a post, the image you use cannot be more than 25% text.

Improve Post Engagement

So now that I’ve shown you some technical changes you can make, or as Mathew McConaughey in Wolf of Wall Street would say, “acidic, above the shoulders mustard shit”; it’s time to fix your engagement strategy.

The following is a list of ways that will help you get more engagements than Ross from Friends:

        1.     Post When Your Fans are Online
What’s the point in posting top quality content when everyone’s asleep or at work? Play to the stats and post when they’re usually online. This can be seen in your ‘Insights’.

> Click ‘See Insights’
> Select ‘Posts’, and you’ll be met with statistical gold!

        2.     Spark a Discussion
As I’ve said many times, engagement is the key to Facebook marketing. It’s the Holy Grail. So ask questions; get the people talking and discussing in your comments box. This is how posts go viral.

Remember that sometimes to spark discussion you have to light the wick of controversy. Don’t sit on the fence - it’s boring and not worth discussing.

        3.     Be a Learned Master
People love interacting with ‘how to’ content. ‘How to’ content works because you’re offering practical value. Gaining value out of something is a key driver of why we share things.

        4.     Lifestyle Shots
People love to see who’s behind the brand. So make every 3rd or 4th post something light hearted and about you the person, or people, behind the brand.
Here’s my girlfriend Gemma and I when we took our Mums out for Mother’s day.

 I know what you’re thinking… She is indeed a lucky girl!

        5.     Shorten Your Posts
Get good at being concise. Posts with less than 80 characters get 23% more interaction. Try it!

        6.     Quote the Best
Quotes get 25% more likes and 19% more shares according to early 2014 statistics. So share some inspiration now and again.

Wrapping It Up

In some people’s eyes Facebook have screwed us over, but life is full of changes and challenges. You’ve got to roll with the changes and use them to your advantage.

I heard a great quote recently that was, “Be better, not bitter”. Write that down on a post-it note and stick it on the side of your screen. The fact is that most brands suck at Facebook marketing. So take the opportunity that’s in front of you.

Hopefully you found this article helpful and you put my tips into practice. If you do I’d love to hear how you got on. So connect with me on one of my platforms and let me know.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The 8 Commandments of Facebook Content Creation

“Quit it with these long posts! I just ignore them!”

I recently posted a status on Facebook sharing my opinion of long posts (specifically on Facebook), backed up with a study of course. However, I believe content creation, in general, is such an important subject that I’d like to harp on about it a little more.

So in this article I’ll go into more depth regarding ‘post lengths’, but also provide you with 8 golden genius drops* of content creation advice.

*Golden Genius Drop: A piece of priceless advice that one’s mind may chew on.

Long posts SUCK (most of the time).

99% of those using social media are doing so for the reason described in the title – to be ‘social’. They’ll come on to check out what’s happening with their friends, maybe skim over a few news stories, watch a video or two, or check out a new restaurant. They don’t come on to read lengthy articles or to learn, in great detail, about any particular subject - We have blogs and news sites for that kind of stuff. At most, people will interact with links to articles that have a brief description before-hand to help them decide whether they want to spend time reading on.

According to Track Social, Facebook posts of more than 140 characters attract a significantly less amount of engagement (Figure 1.). However, this doesn’t mean you have to start cutting all of your posts down to Tweets. The beauty of Facebook is that there are no limitations here.

A long post can still gain a healthy amount of engagement IF it’s structured in the right way; but when I say long, I mean long within reason. My rule of thumb is that if a posts runs over 100 or so words write a blog article. Any more than 100 words and you enter into the boring/ignored category described at the start.
Figure 1

To find out about how to structure these longer posts that still provoke engagement, read on!

The 8 Commandments

Here are the 8 rules I follow when creating Facebook posts:

1.       Write an attention grabbing opening statement:
Think of your post like a newspaper article; the headline is the hook for readers.

2.       Good grammar and perfect spelling:
I shouldn’t need to explain this one. Poor grammar and misspelt words just looks careless, so be careful.

3.       Shorten links:
These save space and look far tidier (I have slight OCD…). Use Google URL Shortener to help you here.

4.       Use bespoke graphics:
Something I try to do as often as possible is use bespoke graphics or original photography. These present a professional image to followers, and will keep you out of copyright trouble!

Simply saving images from Google is lazy and risky. So if you can’t create bespoke graphics, or have no unique photography, then use websites such as Flickr to source images.

5.       Use Hashtags to label the subject, but that is all:
Unfortunately the introduction of hashtags into Facebook didn’t quite work out. According to EdgeRank Checker’s research, Facebook hashtags are actually less likely to make a post go viral. People also don’t tend to take part in public discussions on Facebook the same way they do on Twitter. So again, this makes the Facebook hashtag redundant.

However research aside, Facebook hashtags are a great way of labelling what your post is about. Think of them like labelling a blog article... These labels may attract your audience to read your post.

6.       Get to the fucking point:
As previously explained, people have short attention spans when spending time on social networks. Don’t bore your poor followers…

7.       Include a call to action:
Studies show that people are more likely to engage if asked to.

8.       Sign off with your website URL:
Not only does this make a post look professional, but it drives potential customers to the point of transaction.

If you’re purely using social media for PR purposes the same rule applies. The majority of your service/product information should reside on your website.

Let’s wrap it up

So there you have it, eight ways you can create more professional looking Facebook posts that will encourage engagement. All you need to do now is discuss an interesting or useful subject.

To give you an example of what a good post may look like, I thought I’d sign off by following my “8 Commandments”:

A Sweet-Ass Blog Article Sign Off:

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and, as always, would really appreciate any feedback. So who’s going to start the discussion? Comment below chums.

If you’d like to check out some of my Facebook posts then join me here: http://goo.gl/5nbmAV

#FacebookPosts #8Rules